Jim Altman is an 33-time Emmy Award-winning reporter who joined FOX61 in 2005. Altman has covered most major news events in the state over the past 14 years at Fox as well as hosting his popular weekly travel segment “Daytrippers”. Jim has toured the world on assignment for FOX61 including reporting from the shores of Cuba, to the streets of Ireland, and to the sidelines of the Super Bowl. (via Fox61.com)
Let’s start with a simple one. What is your favorite part about being a television news reporter?
Altman: It is pretty simple…Telling the stories. In our line of work we get to visit a new world each day. You could be in a submarine one day and hang gliding the next…At the State Capitol another day, on the sidelines of the Super Bowl the next. Still, no matter what we are covering, stories are mostly character driven, so meeting the people behind the stories is almost always the most intriguing part.
You are known for your storytelling ability as a reporter, for finding those “off the beaten path” stories and bringing them to light. What is it about those stories that draw you to them?
Altman: There’s no doubt that reporting from the snow bank or a car crash is needed part of what we do but the stories that involve a bit more production value and, perhaps, have more of a unique impact are most special to me. There are so many interesting stories to be told across the state. I think most reporters are drawn to the unique, intriguing topics that people will remember.
What are a few of the favorite stories you’ve done for FOX61 over the years, and why?
Altman: That’s a tough one, there have been so many favorites. Most recently, photographer Sean McKeever and I reported on a quadriplegic patient at the Hospital for Special Care who might not have use of his arms but has become an amazing artist using his mouth to paint. Another favorite experience was our week long reports from Holquin, Cuba which we called “Bats, Balls, Gloves and Goodwill.” A West Hartford kid’s baseball team became the first youth group to play on the exiled Caribbean Island in decades. Those reports from the remote parts of Cuba, where baseball is religion, are among the stories I’m most proud of. I’d also have to give a nod to our “Daytrippers” segments which have pushed envelopes production-wise and let us explore the most “out there” venues around the region. We’ve been able to take the viewers on the aforementioned hang gliding, rappelling, barnstorming, race car driving on snow, flyboarding and we have visited almost every zip line within 200 miles.
You’ve been doing this a while. How has television journalism changed in the years since you started, and do you see that as being good, bad or a little of both?
Altman: It certainly is a little bit of both. The speed of technology can be a great asset but can also leave those in our business in precarious positions if you’re not careful. I try to be as careful as possible. I’ve found that our business struggles with “being first” when the objective is “being accurate.” I think FOX61 does a good job with these technological challenges that didn’t exist when I arrived in CT back in 2005. On the plus side, we can now implement production tactics that can chronicle very compelling pictures to enhance our storytelling. GoPros, and drones, and, yes, even iPhones all have added elements to our visuals on a daily basis that can take already great topics and make them even more memorable.
While you are not from this market originally, you’ve remained in the market for more than 15 years. What is it about Connecticut that has made you want to stay here?
Altman: We live in West Hartford, I realized a few years into this job that we had a good thing here. The area reminds me a bit of Washington, DC where I grew until I was a teenager. Here at FOX61, over the past 15 years, I have been lucky enough to work with a number of talented photographers who have produced so many stories that were great to tell — and there’s has been no shortage interesting stories to report on here. Fifteen years into this, I’m always amped to share the next great topic with the viewers.