Up next in our Meet the Media series, we’re learning about the legacy journalist whose passion for uplifting voices overpowers the early mornings that being an anchor requires. Meet Jake Whittenberg, a morning News Anchor at KING 5. Learn more about him below!
How did you find yourself in your current role?
I actually had no idea I would get into broadcast journalism until after college! I went to film school, and I loved making movies and film directing. My father was a newspaper publisher, and my mother was a reporter, so I was always plugged in and loved the news. I remember dad always taking me to the newsroom on election night. When I realized I could tell people’s stories every day and make a difference in the world, there was no way I could pass up the chance to become a News Anchor. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Which of your stories are you most proud of?
Anytime I can give a voice the voiceless I jump on it. That’s what makes me most proud. The most extreme example of this for me was my time in Cuba. I got to visit Cuba on assignment shortly after President Obama loosened restrictions, I hit a rare window when Americans were more easily able to visit. I learned so much from that experience as a journalist and person. The Cubans taught me an important lesson in resiliency, and how not to take life for granted.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Connecting with people! I love telling stories in small Washington towns. Everyone has a story and I love finding them. And every community has its own set of struggles and triumphs. I absolutely love seeking out those kinds of stories and including everyone in the news.
What is your interview style?
My goal is to not make people feel like they are even being interviewed. The moment I meet someone, I begin the conversation and I try to let it flow naturally and uninterrupted in the time we have together. I sometimes forget that the cameras are rolling. Thankfully, any photographer that works with me knows to just start rolling and let the conversation develop organically. The lights and cameras should turn invisible. It’s that kind of casual conversation that brings out the best in people. Now, if we are holding someone accountable in an interview like a politician, I try not to let them get by before we can get to the truth.
What do you look for in a story?
A great beginning, middle and end. Every step along the way must be memorable.
What is your day like at your job?
I am up WAY too early! We go on the air at 4:30 a.m. on KING 5 Mornings. And that means I need to be well-informed, chipper and highly caffeinated by then! From the moment my alarm goes off at 2 a.m. I am working toward that 4:30 a.m. deadline. It takes a lot of preparation and planning the day before. When Mimi Jung and I get to the anchor desk together, we are constantly researching, writing and delivering the news until 9 a.m. That’s my favorite time of the day at work; when you get to sit next to such a great friend just laugh and enjoy working together every morning. We both love news. It makes the early hours much more tolerable!
Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
My mom and dad. My mom is one of the most curious people I’ve ever known, and she always has great story ideas for me. And my dad has the best news judgement I know. He was an incredible newspaper publisher and was one of the first in the nation to begin the transition to dot com. I look up to them both. As a kid I always admired Tom Brokaw too.
What is your favorite news outlet?
KING 5 News of course! Honestly, I love the rich history and everything KING stands for. I have so much admiration for all journalists because I know how hard they work and how much pressure they’ve been under recently.
Fill in the blank:
a. If I am not working, I am… Enjoying family time! I love hanging out with my wife Tara and two children Lula and Oliver. We are always coming up with something fun together. I’m also an avid golfer, skier and fisherman.
b. If I could interview anyone, it would be… Abraham Lincoln. I’m obsessed with his legacy. And I’m dying to ask him a whole bunch of questions.
c. My favorite thing about Seattle is… The Summers. There is no better place in the country than Seattle in the Summer. I absolutely love living on the water too.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream. And I also love a great Northwest IPA and a hot dog at a Mariners game.
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