Roger Clark is a general assignment reporter for NY1 News, a division of Time Warner Cable that provides 24-hour television news about New York. Clark, hired by the station in 2001 as the Staten Island reporter, works on features for the morning broadcast.
PRWeek: You get to work on some fun stories, and you're known for handling them with a sense of humor. What are some of your favorite stories and why?
Roger Clark: I enjoyed working with a place in Williamsburg [Brooklyn] called the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics or SLAM. They've stuck me in some interesting predicaments, some crazy contraptions where I've been hanging from the ceiling or hanging from a wall. I also took a trapeze class there.
I also recently learned fencing at the Brooklyn Fencing Academy. That was something that I always wondered [about].
I did a story about a kids fishing derby in Prospect Park [Brooklyn], and I actually caught a fish, so that was exciting.
A place I enjoyed when I was growing up was the New York Aquarium, and I got to go back and get kissed by a sea lion, which is something I don't get to do every day.
Those are some of my favorite stories I've been doing lately.
PRWeek: What's the importance of these stories and handling them with humor?
Clark: When people wake up in the morning, they don't want to just hear about bad things. They want to see some things that are good and some things that are fun. They want to see someone they know put into a situation that's kind of humorous and wonder what the look is going to be on my face when I, for instance, get kissed by a sea lion.
I think people need to have a little light-heartedness when they wake up in the morning to spring them into the day. I hope that in some kind of crazy way, I'm doing my part to do a little of that.
PRWeek: Has there ever been a story or a situation where you thought, “I wish I hadn't done that?”
Clark: I remember when I was taking the trapeze class I have to admit there was one moment when I was swinging and the trapeze instructor was yelling at me saying, “Roger, you're fighting gravity!” because I couldn't get my legs to swing above the bar I was hanging from. And I was kind of like, “I just want to get down. Please let me down.” He was trying to get me to do something that I did not think was physically possible at that point.
PRWeek: You were born and raised in New York. How does that native New Yorker perspective affect the way you cover stories?
Clark: You like to think that you've had similar experiences with people in all different neighborhoods. And I would never pretend to say that I've experienced everything because you grow up in one neighborhood and the next neighborhood is a totally different place. But I have had a chance to live in Manhattan, I've lived in Staten Island, in Queens, I even lived in the Bronx when I was a baby. I've seen a lot of things in different communities. I hope that that has helped me to relate to people and understand their stories a little bit better, in some cases have sympathy, in some cases be excited for them.
The blackout a couple of years ago, I was living in Astoria at the time. The people in Astoria were suffering a lot. I felt like I was able to relate to it. People were coming up to me asking, “When's the power coming back? You must know.” I hated the fact that I said, “I don't know either,” and I couldn't help them. I felt this connection with them. Hopefully that helps me deal with a lot of other stories.
PRWeek: Why is local news still important?
Clark: In the five boroughs we're all connected. It's important to know what's going on around the world. But I don't think we should ever forget about local news, even the most local issue possible. I think that's what's good about NY1. We cover a lot of stories that other stations won't cover and people thank us for that.
I did a story about a new dog park opening in Tompkins Square Park and people were thanking us for coming because they fought for a long time to get the dog park open. That's when you realize how important being local is.
PRWeek: How has broadcast news changed?
Clark: It's changed a lot because of the Web. There's also video on demand, which is another way for people to get news anytime they want, and that's a totally different animal than had ever been out there before.
You don't want to get too [desensitized] to things. That's one thing I disagree with about some other stations is that they're a little too much in your face and don't understand the human perspective. I just hope that doesn't get lost [in journalism].
PRWeek: What's the best pitch that you've gotten lately?
Clark: I got one about an international yo-yo contest and that's a possibility, that's something that I may consider covering.
I got another about a workshop [on] the ancient art of stone carving, which is something I wasn't able to get to because it was at night. But the way the person presented it to me really caught my ear.
One of the crazier pitches I've gotten: this lady wrote me, “How would you like to learn Russian cabaret at a restaurant in Brooklyn? Learn how to dance like the Pussycat Dolls and fly like Cirque du Soleil.” I have to admit, I was kind of like “Huh…” I don't know if I'll actually do that story ever, but I have to admit I kept reading. The way she presented it – Pussycat Dolls, Cirque du Soleil, Russian restaurant… something's got to be going on here.
PRWeek: You mentioned that the stone carving caught [your ear]. Why?
Clark: She mentioned that it was a diversified group of New Yorkers from all different neighborhoods around town and they were learning how to cut stone. I was picturing myself in my head with this big saw cutting stone. I thought that would be really cool.
Name: Roger Clark
Title: General assignment reporter
Outlet: NY1 News
Preferred contact method: Roger.Clark@ny1news.com