HURRICANES, HUMAN INTEREST STORIES AND TRAFFIC JAMS. FOR ONE LOCAL REPORTER, IT’S ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.
As traffic anchor and general assignment reporter for First Coast News, Katie Jeffries covers a wide range of topics—and does it all with a smile. But despite her chipper demeanor, she’s adept at covering more than just human interest pieces. With more than five years experience under her belt, she’s seen just about everything. She joined the First Coast News team in 2012, after moving to Jacksonville from North Carolina, where she acted as Greenville Bureau Chief and Weekend Morning Anchor at an ABC/FOX affiliate in New Bern. She recently sat down with Jax Mag to discuss reporting live from the middle of a hurricane, her journalism mentors and her new dog, Alvin.
• “My dad thought I was going to be a lawyer because I love debating, and my mom thought I would be a writer because I love telling stories. But after my first internship, which was in a newsroom, I was hooked. I like to think of it as a lifestyle, not just a job.”
• Like many reporters, Jeffries thrives under pressure. “I like breaking news, things that are happening right in the moment. That’s the excitement of news—you don’t really know what’s going to happen, things change so quickly.”
• One of the highlights of her career, thus far, has been covering Hurricane Irene in 2011. “We were in Swansboro, North Carolina for four days; we couldn’t get out, due to the rain and the flooding, so it was just me and the live truck sending feed back to the station. It was so surreal to be that reporter out in the middle of a hurricane story that I had watched so many times.”
• “My mom wanted to be a meteorologist but her family didn’t have the money to send her to school. So when she visits me now, she gets to see the weather center and see the wall. She’ll stand in front of it with the meteorologist—she just loves it.”
• She counts some of her colleagues amongst her ever-growing list of mentors. “I look up to Jeannie Blaylock a lot. I think her stories are incredible. Shannon [Ogden] is also really great with political stories. If I ever have writer’s block, those are people to go to for help.”
• An animal lover, she recently adopted a dog from the Humane Society. “I think he’s a Chihuahua-beagle mix. His name is Alvin. He’s three-and-a-half. He had just had hip surgery when I got him, so he limps a little bit. I call him my old man.”