Our November feature is Meghan Lopez, reporter and multimedia journalist for Denver7. Meghan is a Colorado native and joined the Denver7 team in December 2017. Three weeks into her tenure with Denver7, she won her first Emmy award for covering the ambush of Douglas County sheriff’s deputies on New Year’s Eve. In addition, she attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish. In her free time, she loves to read and travel and is a Harry Potter fanatic.
Provide a brief explanation of you job title along with a description of your duties.
I am a politics and special/general assignment reporter for Denver7. Each day, I pitch stories and then team up with a photographer to shoot, edit and write a broadcast piece for the day. I’m also responsible for writing a web article for people who want more information and producing content for our streaming platforms. For special assignments, I produce stories under Denver7’s 360 brand, which are longer-format stories that go more in depth about a particular issue.
What stories, trends or issues are currently on your radar?
I mainly focus on stories with a political angle, particularly during an election year. I report on the state legislature’s doings and how bills will affect different groups of people. These days, I am keeping a close eye on the state and local response to COVID-19 and what the response means for businesses, families and budgets.
What do you look for when you are researching writing a story?
I look for two things mainly: facts and a voice. The first is obvious; my job is to find the facts and report them in an understandable way. It’s also important, however, to find a person who will be directly affected by a certain decision or who has a compelling story to share. Having a character that viewers can relate with helps demonstrate why a particular story matters.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
Like so many across the state, I’m working from home these days. This means I drive to meet my photographer and the interviewee, conduct a socially distanced, COVID-19 compliant interview and then I go home and write it. The change has its ups and downs. Driving everywhere myself means less time to make phone calls and write the story, so our turn-around time is much quicker. The good thing is I’m not stuck in rush hour traffic on my way to or from work.
Please describe the most thrilling story you have written.
I wouldn’t describe any of my stories as particularly thrilling. I try to bring a sense of empathy and compassion to every story I tell. There are some stories I felt particularly humbled to share. One that stands out to me was a story about a mother who give birth to a stillborn and wanted to give families who go through the same tragedy a way to spend a bit of time with their baby before saying goodbye, so she donated a CuddleCot to her local hospital. I was honored that she allowed me to tell her story.
Another story I loved telling was of the Colorado state capitol’s portrait painter who says she leaves politics at the door to capture moments in history with her presidential paintings.
What story are you most proud of?
Recently, I would say I’m proudest of my 360 series on the 11 statewide ballot initiatives Colorado voters weighed in on in November. There were a lot of complex issues on the ballot that took time to delve through and we tried to provide an easy-to-understand election resource so that voters could watch the story or read the web article, understand the key arguments for and against each issue and feel empowered to make an informed decision.
What tips do you have for PR professionals who need to pitch a story to you?
The main questions to ask yourself are: is the story visually compelling in some way (since I work in broadcast, we need something to show while we talk)? Is this a story I would want to watch as a news consumer? Does the story have heart (in other words, does it have a person or character to underscore why it matters)?
What do you enjoy most about being a reporter in Colorado?
I most enjoy being home, close to my family and in the community where I grew up. Having worked in several news markets before returning home, it takes years to understand the geography and what makes a good story in a particular location. Viewers in different areas care about different things and it’s our job to find the things that matter the most to them. I feel like I have an advantage since I’m from Colorado and have many family and friends here to tell me what they care about.
I also love reporting in the capitol city of a state where I can cover the state legislature. And of course, I like being able to drive to a story without needing a GPS constantly.
When you are not reporting, what are some of your hobbies?
I love to spend time with my family and my fiancé and play board games. We are a very competitive family, so we are constantly looking for new games to play. I enjoy travelling and can’t wait until things get back to normal so I can explore the world. I love reading and am always looking for book suggestions. I also like hiking and running.