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article imageHeather's World: Going Behind the Desk of a National News Anchor

By Chris Hogg     May 15, 2007 in Entertainment
Anchor of CBC News Morning, Heather Hiscox brings a new breed of journalism to television. Digital Journal takes a look at what it's like to be in the busy shoes of a national television news anchor.
Even if the whole world were exploding around her, Heather Hiscox would probably be calm, collected and unfazed by any of it. As anchor of CBC News Morning, she not only reads the news, but carves a new niche in journalism: “anchorter,” a unique blend of reporter and news anchor who goes far beyond the stereotype of a teleprompter reader.
A tireless researcher, Hiscox, 42, is also a producer, host, and critic. While maintaining the formality of a traditional newscast, she turns interviews into unscripted moments of television that show humanity at its most genuine.
“Journalists are very interested in personalities, so the most rewarding interviews are with people who are not at all TV savvy,” Hiscox says. “Extraordinary achievements or truly interesting people are stories I enjoy the most.”
One such story happened while Hiscox was interviewing a relief worker in
Africa. In a live show under the scorching sun, the woozy guest wanted to stop the interview in mid-speech, and without warning she fainted. Viewers could actually hear her head hit the tripod.
“With live TV you really learn how to extricate yourself from disaster gracefully, learn how to be transparent and say when there are problems,” Hiscox says. “In this case, I explained that it was hot and my guest was pregnant, but I didn’t realize she hadn’t told any of her family watching at home that she was pregnant.”
Anyone who ever thought a TV news anchor’s job is easy has never met Heather Hiscox. She arrives at work by 4 a.m. for the day’s first meeting, later researching breaking news around the world and reading background material on interview guests. Before the show, she heads off to hair and make up for 45 minutes and then rushes to go on air from 6 to 10 a.m.
After spending her entire morning researching stories and delivering the news on-air, she escapes the office commotion by mid-afternoon. She ends her day with even more research before trying to finish up and head to bed by 9 p.m. But that rarely happens, since the self-proclaimed night owl finds it difficult to pull herself away from current affairs.
“It’s the dream job, really,” she says. “It’s a nice combination of elements to make the day interesting. I’m a performer at heart. Ever since I was a little girl I loved the performance.”
Heather Hiscox hosts CBC News Morning, broadcast coast-to-coast across Canada. - Photo courtesy of CBC
Her passion for the business began at 17, when the Owen Sound, Ont. native worked as a radio DJ. Later earning a master’s degree in journalism from the
University of Western Ontario, Hiscox worked for the CBC in Montreal, Global Television and CHCH in Hamilton, Ont., before coming back to the CBC where she’s now the morning’s lead newscaster.
With that title come hardships, though. Holding down a personal life is the biggest sacrifice of any news anchor. Living in Toronto, Hiscox has been married for five years to a cardiovascular surgeon who lives outside the city in London, Ont., two hours from Toronto.
It’s worth it to represent the CBC. “When you work for a public broadcaster, you really are held to a different standard,” she says. “The public feels a great deal of ownership so they call you on everything.”
Looking at audience surveys, Hiscox says viewers are urging the CBC to produce more foreign coverage and consumer awareness stories. “It’s a matter of balancing the must-do mandate stories with those that are of interest,” she says. “We try to make it more accessible while at the same time being smart and connecting the Canadian dots along the way.”
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