Paula Tutman reflects on 36 years of TV reporting, starting with her first day in Knoxville

By Paula Tutman - Reporter

Paula Tutman reports for WATE TV in Knoxville, Tenn. in the 1980s.

Yup. I think it was today.

I think today, 36 years ago, I drove up the driveway to Greystone in Knoxville, Tenn. for my first day at WATE, Eyewitness News 6. I think I was driving a yellow AMC Spirit with a faulty stick shift. I found a video from that era. I think coupons had just been invented, or something like that.

I laugh when I see it. Who was that kid? Oh, it was me.

As a child my sibbies and I were not allowed to watch television, but we got our parents back. We all ended up in the TV news business. The very first time I ever saw a full news program, I was on it as a reporter. Since then the call-letters have changed, and so have the newsrooms. Some assignments are staples no matter what city you are reporting from. The days are usually long. If there’s a snowstorm I’ll likely be the one standing on a snowy overpass in a furry hat telling you to stay home.

Through these many years, I’ve reported on breaking news and flower shows. I have had great adventures when I can’t believe I’m being paid for this work, and other days when I believe I’m not being paid nearly enough. I’ve met Presidents and world leaders. Titans of industry and kid entrepreneurs. Criminals and heroes. My favorite interviews, however, are the ones when I stumble over interesting people on the street doing interesting things.

There are a handful of stories that changed me as a person. A few have changed my world view. Some have broken my heart. I love the people who appreciate me and I get a good laugh at the haters and detractors.

I can honestly say that more than 3 and 1/2 decades later I am even more passionate about this profession and more steadfastly aware that journalists are needed to insure democracy. I’m a lot more plump, perhaps a little wiser, I can’t see without eyeglasses, I don’t understand Instagram and still struggle with email on occasion. I’ve since traded a typewriter for a laptop keyboard, Xerox carbon paper for copiers, payphones for cell phones and I can now go live from a gadget the size of a backpack instead of a truck the size of a bungalow.

And I can truly say that 36 years later, I still love what I do. Low and behold, it’s snowing this morning. I’m sure I’ll see you today at WDIV Local 4 -- from a snowy overpass -- and glad of it.

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