Story by Tazya Williams
Photo by Whitney Peterson
LOGAN–Thirteen years ago, a tall blonde walked into the Animal Science building, her waist-long hair perfectly curled and wearing more make-up than a 6-year-old playing dress-up. Here she was, ready for her first shot at TV news anchoring, a lifetime dream.
She sits nervously on the set, fidgeting and glistening with perspiration under the lights until instructor Dean Byrne yells, “Would you sit still so we can frame the shot!?”
Amanda Butterfield came “home” to USU and the scene of her TV debut Friday as part of the College of HASS Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series, sharing advice and experiences with an audience of JCOM students and Butterfield-wannabe’s at the Haight Alumni Center.
The former USU women’s soccer starter graduated from the journalism and communication department in 2001, heading directly from campus to her first professional TV news job as the evening weather anchor at KTVZ News in Bend, OR.
“I knew nothing about weather,” she said Friday, “but I told them, “Heck, yeah. I can do the weather.’ Anything to get my foot in the door.”
There’s nothing glamorous about small-market TV news, she told her audience. KTVZ News broadcast from a garage with facilities not much better than those she’d trained on with ATV News at USU. And as for fame, Butterfield said that when she went on the air for the first time in Bend, the anchor said, “We would like to welcome our new anchor, Amanda Buttersworth!”
Since then, Utahns have come to know who Amanda Butterfield is—a regular reporter/anchor on the state’s No. 1 newscast, Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate KSL. She’s not so nervous anymore, and she’s still having fun.
“My secret to success—I am giving it here to you in one minute—you must find a job that you love to do, and you will be successful at it” Butterfield said. “I love what I do, I really do love my job.”
That’s the secret to success in the TV news business, as a photographer at KGW-TV in Portland, OR, once told her: You must love your job so much that you would pay to do it.
Butterfield’s goal has always been to come back home to Utah and land a job at KSL, so that she could cover her own community and so her mom and grandmother could see her on the evening news. For Butterfield, the job is all about telling news stories and meeting new people.
It is a perfect mix for Butterfield, she said—You get to dress up nice, you get to do your hair, and you can never have a bad hair day, or you will have people calling you or leaving your messages telling you that your hair didn’t look good.
“It makes for a very busy day, but I work better when I am busy,” she said. “I am never bored. I never look at the clock and think, ‘When is this day going to end?’ I look at the clock and think, ‘Oh no, I need more time. Just one more hour please!’”
Besides finding the job you love, Butterfield said, you also have to have the drive. Back in her ATV News days in the Animal Science Building, where JCOM’s TV control room occupied the same space as a 12-hole Aggie ice cream freezer, the big-time seemed far away. But it doesn’t matter where you come from, Butterfield told the students. What really matters is your drive and your ambition and how much you really want to succeed.
“I have done every job in this business—I have edited, I have done weather. The only job I haven’t done is sports anchor,” the former collegiate athlete said, “but I am pretty sure that I could do sports if I had to.”
Since achieving her goal of coming home to Utah and KSL in 2002, Butterfield has grown into her job as anchor and reporter, winning the choice assignments of covering the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing and then the 2010 winter Games in Vancouver—“dream jobs,” she said.
What viewers remember aren’t the scoops and the hard-hitting reporting, Butterfield said, but the bloopers and more “human” moments—like when she sampled deep-friend scorpion on a stick at a Beijing market on-camera. “I just kept smiling,” she said, but spent a night with a bad case of food poisoning. “I thought I was going to die.”
Or when the former soccer star covered a match between Réal Madrid and Réal Salt Lake, and was the only journalist to get an interview with heart-throb soccer star David Beckham at midfield. She asked the sound technician to shoot photos of the interview with her own camera and then, forgetting that she was still live on KSL, squeaked at him, “Did you get me? Did you get me?” Those photos of her and Beckham still decorate Butterfield’s cubicle at KSL.
Butterfield says she never wanted to make it to the networks in New York. For her, being able to be back in her home town, reporting on her own community—that’s her measure of success.
“Love what you do,” Butterfield said. “I would do my job for free, but don’t you ever tell my boss.”
(Related story: http://hardnewscafe.usu.edu/?p=145)