Dec 8, 2009

FOX News reporter visits Liberty

by Melinda Zosh

When Fox News Correspondent Shannon Bream left her job at a law firm in Tampa, Fla., for an internship at a local television station, her partners thought she was out of her mind.

“At night, when I could get away from the firm, I would sneak over to the TV station,” Bream said. “I decided to take a leap of faith, because so many doors had opened.”

After graduating from Liberty (‘92) with a degree in business and from Florida State University (‘95) with a law degree, Bream attempted to enroll in a local Florida university to meet the local ABC affiliate’s internship qualifications. She learned that she would need two previous years of mass communications classes. Bream avoided the classes, persisted and got the internship.

“From the minute I walked into the news room, it was love at first site, and it was the greatest thing I had ever seen,” Bream said. “I became the world’s oldest intern at age 28.”

Bream told an audience at Liberty Law School’s Supreme Courtroom on Nov. 18, how her law partners said she should not leave something she had trained for and invested time in.

After interning for several weeks, Bream, who was crowned Miss Virginia 1990 and Miss Florida USA 1995, was offered an entry-level position. She started her shift at 2 a.m. writing scripts for the morning anchors and calling the local police and fire stations.

Bream’s biggest supporter was her husband, Sheldon, also a Liberty alumnus.

“Where I am today, I would not be without his encouragement,” Bream said. “I feel like he should have JD (law degree) behind his name as well.”

Law school was “three years of misery” for Bream. She relied on Psalm 34:4 when she debated abortion in law school, praying that God would deliver her from her fears. Out of 150 students in her class, she was the only one who argued a pro-life position., but her trials in law school prepared her for her first television job at the ABC affiliate in Tampa.

Bream’s boss left a note in her mailbox one day, telling her that if she finished all the scripts for the anchors then she could do morning reports on the air.

“I had no training, and I had not been to a great mass communications school,” Bream said. “I was learning by trial and error.”

After the report, a new boss came to the station and called her into his office.

“He told me I was terrible, and I would never make it on TV and that I needed to immediately go back to practicing law,” Bream said. “Then he fired me.”

Bream spent the next six months looking for a “regular job” while her husband pushed her to keep looking for televisions jobs.
“I bugged every news director for a job from Albuquerque, N.M., to Charlottesville, Va.,” Bream said.

Bream served as an anchor in Charlotte, N.C., for three years. Then, she worked at the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., in the same building as “Meet The Press” former host Tim Russert. Just as her contract at NBC was about to end, her husband took her to a speech in Washington, D.C. in 2007. She met Fox News’ Brit Hume, and told him she wanted to work at Fox News.

Hume told Bream to send him a DVD, but he did not guarantee a job placement. Bream left the room, and her husband told Hume about Shannon’s background in law.

“Suddenly everything was different,” Bream said. “Within two minutes, Brit was like, ‘When are you coming to work for us?’ ... There was an opening for Supreme Court correspondent.”

Bream was hesitant to use her law background on TV and to “crunch the legal reasoning and getting it right within seconds on the air.”

“I never enjoyed practicing law, but I really enjoy covering it,” Bream said.

Bream sometimes fills in for Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, and Bream covered the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and the New Jersey gubernatorial election. Her faith is what has sustained her, she said.

“Shannon is a deeply committed Christian who is an exemplary person who represents her Lord and this fine institution,” Dean of the Law School Mathew Staver said. “God is going to continue to expand her territory.”

Bream’s persistence helped her become a national news correspondent, she said.“Once you find that passion it gives you the fuel. It’s a lot of hard work, but persistence will help you win over someone who is more talented and more well connected,” Bream said. “If you say ‘I’m going to outwork you,’ and ‘I’m going to give 110 percent,’ bosses and people watching will know that you’re principled and hard-working. I won’t take no for an answer.”

Contact Melinda Zosh at
mzosh@liberty.edu.
 


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