Since she began watching NBC with her mom when she was 12 years old, Tanya Hutchins '89 had always dreamed of being a TV reporter, so when she was accepted to Ithaca College, that dream became a tangible reality.
When Hutchins arrived at IC, the college’s now-popular journalism major didn’t yet exist. However, Hutchins feels her degree in Television-Radio with a concentration in broadcast journalism gave her the skills she needed to make it in the field.
“I had to take all of the production courses and all of the journalism courses,” she said. “I feel like I got the best of both worlds.”
While at IC, Hutchins spent the majority of her time in the ICTV studios which, while she was a student, were located in the basement of Dillingham. As a first-year student, she got involved with a variety of shows on the station. In her sophomore year, she became a reporter for Newswatch, continuing on to become an anchor for the program as an upperclassman and then news director in the first semester of her senior year.
“I was one of those people who was in Dillingham all the time,” she said. “Like someone who lives in Park, I was always there.”
At IC, Hutchins minored in Anthropology and took a number of history and sociology courses, all of which she said helped prepare her for life in the media.
“I dabbed at a little bit of everything and that helped make me well rounded,” she said.
After she graduated in '89, Hutchins accepted a fellowship at Boston ABC affiliate WCVB. The paid fellowship, offered to one minority a year, gave Hutchins an opportunity to enhance her news reporting skills.
After the fellowship ended, Hutchins was offered a job at ABC affiliate WSYX based in Columbus, Ohio, where she worked on and off for the next 15 years. She also worked for the local NBC affiliate and local cable news station Ohio News Network.
While in Columbus, Hutchins briefly quit news to pursue freelance work. She said this decision was largely due to the repetitive, saddening nature of news reporting.
“I got tired of covering crime,” she said. “It was exciting for the first four or five years, and then I got sick of dead bodies and children dying. I just didn't want that to be my life anymore.”
She said the most difficult aspect of her transition was the change in income.
“Even though I was making good money at that point, the money wasn't enough to keep me there—I wanted happiness, I wanted to feel good about the work I was doing,” she said. “But, to be freelance, you never know when your next paycheck is coming.”
To protect herself as a freelance journalist, she joined SAG-AFTRA, a labor union representing those in the television industry.
However, when the economy crashed in 2008, she briefly returned to the Columbus NBC station. In 2011, she packed her bags and moved back home to Washington D.C., where she began working as a backpack journalist for The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a labor union similar to the one she had joined in Columbus.
For the last six years, she has produced media content and helped the organization expand the way they share information. Hutchins says she loves the job so much because it’s always evolving.
“In 2011, I was hired because they created an app,” she said. “Now, we've evolved even more with social media and live videos.”
She says this job is mainly different from her work as an anchor because the content she is creating is mostly advocacy journalism. However, she says this aspect of the job is very rewarding.
“It is advocacy journalism, but I'm advocating for something that's good like workers rights,” she said. “As long as it's good, I don't mind doing advocacy journalism.”
Throughout her career in the media, Hutchins said her desire to learn and experience new things always encouraged her to pursue new opportunities.
“I think you should stay in a job as long as you’re learning, and when you’re not learning anymore it's time to go.”