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by Jennifer Ching, student writer

The day would have songs, tragedy, and a focus on prevention, but as intriguing as all this sounds, it was just a typical day at work for KGMB 9 news reporter Lisa Kubota.

Kubota, a general assignment reporter at KGMB, has worked at the station since 2004. Born and raised on Maui, she is the daughter of HPU’s Young-Shin Kubota, assistant professor of Japanese and Korean. She graduated with a dual major in government and psychology from Claremont McKenna College in California, and she completed an internship at KHNL News 8 before teaching English in Japan for two years with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). When she returned from Japan, she worked for KHNL News 8 for four years before joining KGMB 9.
Kubota works the evening shift, reporting on a variety of stories that can be featured in the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts. Sometimes, she’s featured in all three.

“ The potential is there for me to be in the 5, 6, and 10 o’clock newscasts,” Kubota said. “If anything late-breaking happens, I usually get sent out with the live truck somewhere.”

She starts her day, she said, “making phone calls, and I talk to the producers about what kinds of stories possibilities there are for the evening. So from there, sometimes it can be a fresh story, other times I’ll be following up on something a dayside reporter did. And sometimes late at night [something] will happen, and I’ll have to throw out whatever I was originally working on,” she added.
Today her day began before 2 p.m. at the KGMB 9 news station where she’s teamed up with cameraman Mike Cherry, who has been working at KGMB for five years. Cherry, a UH graduate, works mostly behind the camera, but he was promoted to weekend sports anchor in August.
The first interview of the day was for a hold-for-release story about the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus. “Hold-for-release” stories don’t air on the day that they are filmed, but at a later date to coincide with an event.

The interview was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Kamehameha Schools, so Kubota and Cherry left the station about 2 p.m. As they traveled to the school, they discussed how they would approach the story once they got there.

At 2:30 p.m., the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus began their rehearsal, practicing songs that they would perform in New Zealand during a week-long trip. The songs included the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride,” two that they had recorded for the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch.

As they sang, Kubota watched and wrote down interview questions while Cherry moved around the room, filming the singers from different angles. After practice ended at 3:15 p.m., they interviewed some of the students and the instructor.

Kubota and Cherry left Kamehameha Schools after 3:45 p.m. and once at the station, Kubota made a few phone calls. Her assignment for the night was to continue the coverage of the day’s main story, the death of a two-year-old girl who was run over by a reversing SUV.

“ Sometimes during the day, we end up taking a dayside story and advancing it in some way. Usually the 10 o‘clock news likes a fresh story–a different story–but with something so major, we’ll try to find a new angle to it,” Kubota explained.

The angle that they decided to pursue was prevention: how families can protect their children from this type of accident. Kubota scheduled two interviews, one at Security Alarm Shop at about 5:15 p.m. and the other at Servco Lexus at 5:30 p.m. At both places, Kubota asked about tools such as sensors and cameras that can help warn drivers that children or objects are around their car. Meanwhile, Cherry filmed the sensors and cameras in action.

Before each interview, Kubota and Cherry had a brief discussion about how they would approach the interview. Cherry said that this exchange is something that good reporters and good photographers will do: “When you [the photographer] go out with certain reporters, you kind of start to get a sense of how they put together their story and vice versa. The reporter knows what the photog (photographer) will go and gather for them.”

Kubota said, “It is really a team effort; it’s not just you (the reporter) that’s doing everything. They’re half the story as well.”

The rest of the night was full of activity as everyone at the station began preparing for the 10 p.m. newscast. After a quick dinner, Kubota watched the video footage that dayside reporter Sabrina Hall had gathered. She then worked on writing her script for the newscast.

Meanwhile, Cherry edited some of the footage they had gathered and set up a demonstration that would be used in Kubota’s story. He lined up 28 chairs behind an SUV to show how objects can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. After filming the demonstration, Kubota returned to writing scripts while Cherry edited all of the day’s footage–interviews, voice-over recordings, and so forth–to create a cohesive story. As the clock ticked, fingers and words flew as they each put together their parts of the story.

Then, a few minutes before 10 p.m., Kubota walked onto the set where the newscast would be filmed. Less than a minute after the newscast began, news anchor Keahi Tucker introduced her and the top story of the night. The result was an impressive product: two minutes and 38 seconds of live reporting on the set combined with video footage.

After her story, Kubota left the set to write a Web version of her story for the KGMB 9 Web site. The newscast ended at 10:30 p.m., and so did the work day.

Reflecting on it, Kubota said: “I think it’s a job for people who like to have very unpredictable days. It’s not your typical 9-5. It’s very different every day. You never know what to expect.”
Editor’s note: Jennifer Ching is a junior majoring in journalism at HPU. She spent a day on the job with Lisa Kubota in March.




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