Global B.C. community reporter Michael Newman will never fit the mould of most TV journalists. First off, he never attended journalism school. Plus, he doesn’t cover crime, mayhem, scandals, and political controversy.
Rather, Newman prefers leveraging the platform of television to showcase positive things happening in Metro Vancouver.
“I also have a passion for dialogue,” Newman tells Pancouver over Zoom, “and how bringing people together under certain auspices can actually lead to real change and real understanding and real empathy and real compassion.”
Citing media scholar Marshall McLuhan, Newman declares that television is a very powerful tool in helping shape people’s perceptions about the world. Growing up in Florida, his idols were TV hosts such as Oprah Winfrey, Bob Ross, and Fred Rogers, who used the medium to capture the human spirit. According to Newman, they engaged people in new thoughts, new ideas, and new perspectives.
“That’s what motivated me to even get into this business,” Newman says. “It wasn’t to be famous. It wasn’t to have perks.”
He acknowledges that he was born with certain gifts, which make him suitable for TV. Words flow easily out of his mouth. Newman quips that he was also born with a symmetrical face and that people like listening to him speak.
“So, let’s use that for good!” he states cheerfully. “That’s kind of how I got into it.”
He recognizes that one way to do some good is to provide underrepresented communities with access to the airwaves. Newman is glad to see more people in his industry coming to the realization that there is “a whole swath of people who are not being represented in coverage”.
“How do we create more equity and inclusion in how we operate as an organization?” he asks. “As a journalist, who am I talking to outside of my comfort zone or my zone of influence?”
Michael Newman does a live hit with boxer Darcy Hinds from the Show of Hearts Telethon in 2020.
Newman helps break down silos
Newman studied business administration at the University of Central Florida, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2011. In his home state, he went to work for a TV show called Orlando Live Magazine before moving to New Mexico. There, Newman hosted an educational and travel series called New Mexico True Television, which earned regional Emmy Awards in 2016 and 2017.
He says that he didn’t experience a lot of racial trauma as a child. That, Newman emphasizes, is a privilege. He’s also had positive experiences working in television.
“There’s much to say about systemic inequities about how people come into media,” Newman notes. “That’s changing, but I never felt marginalized.”
He is a dual Canadian-American citizen and had a family connection to Vancouver, which is why he moved to British Columbia. In 2018, Newman joined Global B.C. with a mission to showcase arts, cultural, and nonprofit initiatives. Since then, he has become a familiar face to Global viewers for his upbeat live broadcasts from festivals and other weekend events, as well as for his community calendar.
Newman recognizes that there’s a natural human tendency to remain in one’s own silo. Therefore, he sees his job as helping people break out of those shells. The Global B.C. broadcaster believes that this can be accomplished by creating dialogues and understanding between people who might not necessarily come into the same space.
“I get to meet people who are doing beautiful things and amazing things, bringing people together,” Newman says.
Community reporter @MrMichaelNewman is taking a deep dive into social enterprises in B.C., profiling organizations that champion this alternative business model. In his first episode, Michael breaks down what they are and why they are important. pic.twitter.com/t1x7hxo08I
— Global BC (@GlobalBC) May 15, 2023
Highlighting social enterprises
This year, Newman took his solution-oriented journalism in a different direction with his Making a Difference: Social Enterprise Series. He focused on several organizations that reinvest profits into improving the community.
The series included stories about an ethical apparel company, a property-service company that hires those with barriers to employment, and a boutique that supports people on the road to recovery.
Newman reveals that he took a trauma-informed approach to those stories. This meant ensuring that interview subjects truly felt seen, understood, and heard.
“I pride myself in doing that, especially with something as sensitive as employment or livelihood or disability or discrimination,” Newman says.
A Vancouver property services company is investing its profits back into its people, providing quality jobs for people facing barriers. Community reporter @MrMichaelNewman explains more in his Making a Difference series. pic.twitter.com/Sa7smAmREN
— Global BC (@GlobalBC) May 17, 2023
He’s been practising yoga since he was 15 years old and freely states that there is a spiritual component to what he does. Newman is also a mindfulness meditation facilitator. In fact, yoga and mindfulness give him a generative worldview and encourage him to promote connections through his work.
Moreover, in New Mexico, he learned about Indigenous ceremonies, including sweats, which shaped who he is today. Those experiences also advanced his understanding of emotional self-regulation.
Newman used to feel that there was a bifurcation between his professional career and his personal practice of yoga. That’s because within mainstream culture, yoga was considered unconventional—something for those with a more mystical or Eastern religious mindset.
But that’s no longer the case. This is especially as the health and educational benefits of yoga and mindfulness became more widely known.
“More and more, I realize that the work I do is informed by who I am on a daily basis,” Newman says. “What you see on TV is what you get when you see me in the grocery store…. I got to a point where I’m going to be me all the time.”
Michael Newman explored health and wellness for New Mexico True Television.
Newman’s tips for media coverage
He has plenty of advice for underrepresented artists and organizations seeking media coverage on television. Newman points out that the 24-hour news cycle moves very quickly and it can be overwhelming—even for those employed in the industry. He receives 50 emails a day, which makes it impossible to respond to every inquiry.
According to Newman, it can help if the person seeking coverage pre-organizes the story. Also, including video in the pitch can help because then the reporter will get a sense of what visuals might be available.
He also cautions people to consider whether they have a sufficiently strong organization to deal with the crowds if their event is highlighted on Global B.C.
“If you don’t have the capacity, then it’s worse for you even though you want exposure,” Newman says. “So pace yourself. I think that’s something to be cognizant about: build organically. Being on Global isn’t the best thing for everyone.”
In addition, Newman says that it’s helpful to direct a pitch at someone who deals with that topic, though he acknowledges that news is becoming more generalized. Timing is also critical. There are many demands on newsroom resources, so submitting an inquiry at 5 p.m. to do a live hit the following morning probably won’t make the cut.
Newman also says that it’s unlikely that Global B.C. will attend a community event at 8 p.m. because of a shortage of newsroom resources. However, there’s a better chance if it’s taking place around noon on a weekend when he’s doing a live hit from the field.
“If you don’t have a PR person, that’s okay,” Newman says. “Sometimes, some of the best pitches don’t come from PR people.”