Here’s what it’s like to be a female multimedia journalist in Charlotte covering protests and people’s worst moments

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Sarah Blake Morgan spent four years as a reporter for WBTV in Charlotte covering everything from the 2016 protests to interviewing the infamous “Jesus saves!” guy Uptown.

This week she sits down with Sallie Funderburk and Sean Clark-Weiss to talk about everything from being a female journalist to her scariest live TV moment. Listen below…

How difficult is it to cover something that is happening at the moment?

“I mean, you heard me. That’s live TV for you. It’s not all perfect. I was just going with what was happening. What you heard from the last few seconds of that clip (a highlight reel of some of Sarah’s most intense moments as an MMJ) is a woman running towards the crime tapes screaming at the top of her lungs. As a good photographer is trained to do, he had panned toward her and I thought to myself, this doesn’t feel right. This is this woman’s worst moment of her life. She was a family member, and we have no business showing that on TV. So I asked him to pan over to me and he did, he followed me, because he’s a fantastic photographer…That live shot resonated with a lot of people on social media because they saw in that moment that we were humans and that we were respecting people’s privacy.”

How much pressure, if at all, did you feel being a woman in multimedia journalism?

“It’s a lot. Starting out, I didn’t go to a great journalism school, so I was kind of clueless when I got into this. I knew that I would have to shoot but I didn’t really grasp what it was all about. So it’s kind of like the phrase, ‘Fake it ’til you make it’, and I just shot over and over and over again. A lot of MMJ’s, especially female MMJ’s, do it because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. That was about five or so years ago. But then I made the decision, you know what, I want to do this and do this well, and get really good at this, mainly because I want to enjoy it. That flip of a switch in my mind just changed everything for me, and now I love the shooting and editing parts of my job just as much as the reporting. I can tell you some of the best MMJs in the country are women now.”

Did you ever feel bad about being somewhere to cover something?

“All the time, all the time. I think when you don’t feel bad, then it’s time to remove yourself from the situation. I’m a human first. We talked about that earlier…but we also have to think about the way we treat other people. I always put myself in situations. How would I handle that? What would be going through my mind if my child had just died, if my sister had just died? There are many times where I’ve fought back and said I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to be there. They don’t want us there. There are reporters who, when they are asked to leave, may fight back a little bit. If it’s a highly emotional situation, I always just step back.”

Images via Sarah Blake Morgan

The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s co-hosted by Sean Clark-Weis and Sallie Funderburk and is a production of the Charlotte Observer and Brian Baltosiewich.

You can follow us on Twitter @CharlotteFive, on Instagram @cltfive, and on Facebook, and you can shoot us an email to charlottefive@charlottefive.com.

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