TV news anchor Amanda Raus’ resume reel shows clips of her delivering stories from behind the news desk at Fox 61 and reporting at the scene of a barn explosion in North Haven, from outside a U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony, and interviewing a baseball executive about opening day during a visit to his team’s stadium, among the spots.
The graduate of Masuk High School’s Class of 2001 showed the reel to students in the Masuk Women’s Advocacy Club Thursday morning, while talking about her career as part of a speaker series sponsored by the Monroe Rotary Club.
Raus, who took a break from journalism after having her second child, has been nominated for a Regional Emmy twice during a career spanning from News 12 Connecticut to NBC Connecticut, then to Fox 61 as a full-time anchor.
“It was here at Masuk that I decided what I wanted to do,” Raus said to students gathered inside the school auditorium. “I was going to go into journalism.”
Prior to that life defining decision, Raus said she wanted to be a pediatrician, but after doing dissections in science classes and taking chemistry, she realized the medical field wasn’t for her.
“I loved writing and was co-editor of the yearbook,” she recalled. “I liked presenting in class and was class president and a captain of the cheerleading team, so I had no problem getting up in front of a room.”
But Raus concedes that public speaking is most difficult in front of your peers. When students feel like a bundle of nerves, she suggests trying to be calm and focusing on an audience member who makes you feel comfortable — and it does not even have to be a person.
“Nobody knows if you focus on an empty seat,” she said.
“I love covering breaking news and the adrenaline rush of being at a scene trying to figure out what happened.”— Amanda Raus
After graduating from Masuk, Raus enrolled at Syracuse University and, because she took UConn classes at Masuk for college credits, Raus was able to graduate from Syracuse in three years. She went on to earn her MBA from Quinnipiac University while working for NBC Connecticut.
As an associate producer at News 12, Raus wrote scripts for anchors. She had a “really tough news director” who didn’t hesitate to tell her when he didn’t like something she wrote, but Raus said she learned from the experience.
“I was interested in reporting and had a resume tape,” she said, adding Dave Feuerman, the assistant news director, told her, “I’m going to give you a shot. You’ll report things here and there.”
Raus was just out of college, so to become an on-air personality, she received advice on looking more professional, from changing her hairstyle to dressing for the “work world.” Raus also had a voice coach, who helped her lower her voice and calm her delivery.
Raus said she worked as a multimedia reporter for WSHM in Springfield, Mass., to get her feet wet, presenting stories, doing the camera work and editing. “You want to make your mistakes when you’re younger,” she said. “The teleprompter went down when I first anchored.”
Raus was later hired as a reporter for NBC Connecticut, where she had interned in college, along with Fox Sports. “It was great to keep in touch and keep that relationship going,” she said.
Raus spent eight years as a general assignment reporter, meaning she covered whatever assignment she was told to cover.
“I was in the New Haven bureau and did weekend anchoring,” she said.
She landed her first full-time anchoring job when she was hired by Fox 61 and covered big stories, including the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Raus gave birth to her first daughter, then left Fox 61 before having her second daughter. In May of 2022, when she was eight months pregnant, Raus said she filled in as an anchor for WTNH on Channel 8.
Pursuing her dream
Though Raus has enjoyed success in the news business, it was not without challenges.
“I had a boss who said, ‘I just don’t see you as an anchor,'” she said of her biggest obstacle. “That was my dream. I had to be a thorn in his side: ‘I want to do this.'”
Among the advice Raus gave students was to speak up for yourself at work when you want to do something, because people are not mind readers.
She said it can sometimes be frustrating when a boss says no to a story idea and assigns a different one, “but everyone has a boss.”
“Keep up the hard work and don’t let anything get in your way,” Raus said, adding sometimes it’s okay to go in a different direction, though she always believes she can do what she wants to if she keeps at it.
She said women in the workforce have to overcome challenges. For her, this included balancing child care with a hectic news schedule. Raus said having a good support system is important. Women also need to help other women, she added.
‘The adrenaline rush’
In a question and answer period, Raus was asked how she decided what career she wanted to pursue.
“I had to put together what I do best,” she said, adding she loves storytelling. “I enjoy being able to talk to people and tell their stories.”
Though she didn’t want to be a journalist since she was a kid like some of her colleagues, Raus said she was a “ham” who jumped in front of a camera whenever she could.
A student asked what Raus enjoys most about being a journalist.
“I love covering breaking news and the adrenaline rush of being at a scene trying to figure out what happened,” Raus said.
Aside from breaking news, other memorable moments included an interview with a Sikorsky executive for a story on a new helicopter and going into a puppy room for a story on training guide dogs.
One student asked Raus if she ever messed up on camera.
“All the time,” she said with a smile. “All the time! Oh my gosh, I messed up and it takes a dive. As you do it more, you get more confident.”
Raus recalled a breaking news assignment when she wrote everything down on her pad. But when she went live on air, there was not enough lighting to read her notes. “I bumbled through it,” she said.
During another report, the sun was in her eyes. “I was tearing,” Raus said. “I was told, ‘that can’t happen! That looked awful!'”
From then on, she made sure to be in a spot where the sun wasn’t in her eyes.
For those pursuing journalism, she said digital reporting and internships are key.
“Social media is really big,” Raus said. “Warning: once it’s out there on social media, it’s out there forever even if you delete it, so make good choices.”
When she was a student at Masuk, Raus said she did not write for the school newspaper, but if the school’s video production and media courses were available back then, she would have taken advantage of it. “My closest thing was making morning announcements,” she said.
While recalling how she changed her mind from studying to be a pediatrician to pursuing journalism, Raus told her audience to embrace change, saying, “you might go in thinking one thing, then dreams change and it’s time for another adventure.”
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