Bachemin bullish on KPFA
News reporter upbeat on her radio experience
"People go to KPFA for political news with a progressive point of view," said Tina Bachemin, a freelance reporter for the radio station, during her visit May 8 to the Mass Media and Society class.
Bachemin has been a general assignment reporter for the publicly-funded station for the past two and a half years and has covered everything from protests to criminal hearings to press conferences.
Bachemin started her reporting career in 2005 after living through the events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She was actually in the city until 12 hours before the hurricane hit and was inspired watching news coverage of the event.
"What struck me was that the reporting on the hurricane was more about the spectacle of the tragedy than the people being affected by it," she said.
Bachemin believes that the news should be for and about the people who follow it. It should represent the community that it covers. "We are all Katrina, we are all Fukushima," she told students. "These events happen to people like us every day, it's important that the world hears about them."
After eight years as a producer for KQED, she decided it was time to for a vocational change. "I wanted to have the skills to help make media," Bachemin declared.
After listening to KPFA she knew they were the group she wanted to add her voice to. After joining an apprenticeship program KPFA offered, she went into training for 10 months after which they had her do six months of volunteer work capped off with five months of intense one-on-one mentoring.
KPFA is known for being the first listener-supported radio station in the country. "Funding doesn't come from corporations...it comes from the community," announced Bachemin. She thinks that mainstream media isn't dedicated to social change or even to its audience; its dedication is to it sponsors and it will never report news that shines a negative light on them.
She adds that the mainstream media is too limited in who they are willing to use for sources. While the mainstream might cover someone in the public arena like an elected official or a celebrity, rarely will it use its resources to report the opinion of the people who their news is directly affecting.
While her motivation to keep reporting is strong, that doesn't mean that there weren't difficulties when starting her new career. The tension and excitement of working with dozens of other reporters struck her so hard the first time she experienced it that she froze and forgot to ask the politician she was reporting on any questions.
After her first instance of reporting live her nerves were so frazzled that she vomited afterwards.
The tension of her job isn't just negative. Every morning her editor sends her a list of what stories he wants covered and she spends her day rushing around, interviewing people, and recording news bytes.
The fast-paced nature of the work keeps her going and is part of what she loves about the job. The highlight of her job, however, is getting the news faster and more directly than anyone else.
"Being a reporter is a privilege," Bachemin said. "You are the only person who actually gets the news. "first-hand."
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