By Yasaman Khorsandi, guest writer
It is 9 a.m. in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, and coffee is brewing and everything is routine. Tracee Carrasco just woke up with Duke, her 4-year-old child who also happens to be a pug. Carrasco spends the morning in her apartment reading the news, checking Twitter, taking Duke on a walk, working out, running errands––things she won’t be able to do once 1 p.m. hits.
Everything about the morning is calm, but nothing can prepare Carrasco for what kind of day it’ll be. Her job revolves around the unusual, like the daily disturbances that make a day far from normal––car accidents, shootings, fires and crimes. Her job is contingent upon breaking news.
From a young age, Carrasco knew she wanted to be a journalist.
“I remember being a little girl and watching ’60 Minutes’ and ’20/20′ with my parents,” Carrasco said. “I have always been a very curious person. I always wanted to be in-the-know.”
Carrasco’s job as general TV reporter at CBS 2 News was not instantaneous. After a few internships and applying to numerous small market jobs, she landed her first TV reporting job in Duluth, Minnesota. After a year-and-a-half in that newsroom, she advanced to a medium-market job in Nashville.
“What’s amazing is how her career progressed. She went from Duluth to New York City in less than four years. That is stellar,” Joseph Pleasant said, Carrasco’s coworker and reporter at WKRN-TV in Nashville of two years.
In February of 2013, while working in Nashville, Carrasco got a call from her agent who said CBS wanted to fly her out for an interview. Although New York was never part of her plan, she said, “How do you say no to that? You don’t turn down market number one.”
Although “typical” is far from Carrasco’s job, the following is just one work day in the life of Carrasco:
1:30 p.m. – Carrasco makes her way from Hell’s Kitchen to 57th St. and Tenth Avenue. The Upper West side building on the corner of Tenth Avenue is home to the CBS 2 News Station. Carrasco walks in and begins to prep for her 2 p.m. meeting–– she is always early.
2 p.m. – The editorial meeting with all the managers, producers and reporters begins. There are 15 people in the room, and they are planning the evening news for the more than six million viewers who will be watching CBS tonight.
The first order of business is the 5 p.m. show. Next, the 6 p.m. show. Following that, the 9 and 11 p.m. shows, which contain Carrasco’s segments. Each reporter goes around and pitches the story ideas they will report on in a handful of hours. This may be the only consistent, routine part of Carrasco’s work day. There is no typical day at CBS.
2:50 p.m. – The meeting is over and each reporter has their stories for the night, or so they think. Carrasco spends the next couple of hours gathering information, press releases, interviews and planning out her stories.
4:00 p.m. – The group of three, which entails the reporter, the photographer and driver, head out to Queens for their first story. There’s been a recent situation for Queens’ residents in which red traffic lights were issuing tickets to drivers, even though a traffic agent was directing them to drive. By the time the trio arrives, they find out the traffic issue only happens in the morning and that nothing can be reported. On to the next story.
6:30 p.m. – The group leaves the scene in Queens to go to their next assignment in Long Island, covering a mystery story: Two sets of human remains were found near each other, thought to be linked to gang-related violence.
7:30 p.m. – Carrasco and the crew arrive on the scene in Long Island and begin to gather information. She has 90 minutes before she goes live for her segment. Carrasco grabs an interview with someone on the scene and begins crafting her script and gathering voiceovers.
8:30 p.m. – Carrasco finishes her script for the 90-second segment while the crew prepares to go live in 30 minutes.
“Every day is different. There could be some days where you are checking out five different breaking news scenes. You go to a fire, but it’s not really as bad as they thought. You go to a car accident, but it’s not what they thought, or there’s a shooting that turns out to be in a really bad area. We call it the ‘five borough tour,’” Carrasco said.
12:30 a.m. – After concluding both her 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. segments on the Long Island story, Carrasco returns to her Manhattan home and manages to fall asleep by 1:30 a.m.
Being a familiar TV face who delivers breaking news is far from a glamorous or consistent lifestyle. While it may be easier to live a ‘nine-to-five’ life––the hours, nor the paycheck, matter as much to her as storytelling itself.
“My first year as a reporter, I was probably making the same amount as a person in Starbucks. Coming from marketing and PR, my salary in TV was about a third of that, which was a hard place to be,” Carrasco said. “But I just said, ‘That’s the trade-off.’ It’ll pay off one day. A lot of people are just in a job, and it’s not really something they’re passionate about. It’s just a paycheck to them. To me, it’s a lot more. This is what I wanna do, so I have to try and see what happens.”