Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Maminta interview

Here is the extended-edition (like a movie on DVD!) interview with WTNH anchor Jocelyn Maminta.

Jocelyn Maminta was born in the Phillipines and came here at age 6. Her doctor father came to America for opportunity. It was either United States or New Zealand, she said. Grew up understanding Tagalog language.
On her support for certain causes as a volunteer:
"When it comes to children’s issues, those issues always speak to my heart." Has to juggle those activities with raising a 12- and 5-year-old.
She was a political science major. "First three years I was pre-med and then I switched because I realized it was really not for me. My dad is a doctor and he thought all seven of his children should be doctors. I prepared for that all through middle school, high school. I took all the tough courses, science classes where I grew up in St. Louis, Mo., He did get some of them to become doctors, three, and one sister is a nurse. My mother is a nurse, too."
She took a few courses in journalism, but really didn’t get into that until later. After graduation went to Washington, D.C., to use her poly-sci training and got a job as assistant to Ursula Mees, wife of former Attorney Gen. Edwin Mees. "Now they’re my godparents."
"I love sports and decided I wanted to get into sportscasting." She got her first break covering Friday night football for a TV station in northern Virginia. After that she landed a paid internship at WUSA-TV in Washington that was designed to encourage minorities to get broadcasting jobs. Shadowed reporters for a year at that top 10 market station.
Did an on-air story about a guy on a hunger strike about homelessness, decided she liked it and did more stories (that didn’t air) for a demo tape that she was used to land another TV job in news (which she felt had more impact on people’s lives than sports).
"I did what you’re supposed to do (in TV) High Point, N.C., Buffalo, WTNH, Milwaukee (for a higher-profile anchor job), Lubbock, Texas (her husband’s job necessitated that move) and back to New Haven.
Her husband is Gary Doyens, who is a development guy at CPTV.
Worked mornings at WTNH, evenings in Milwaukee.
"In the news division, you really do make a difference in someone’s life. It could be that one person but... you can change that one person."
"When I came back to New Haven, people said ‘Welcome back, we missed you.’ It was amazing. I couldn’t believe people still remembered me. But it was nice that they did. In Connecticut, when they love somebody, they truly love that person. They really welcome that person into their home. They know what they like, right?"
In coming back to New Haven in 2002, Maminta decided that this was going to be a long-term move. She had just given birth to daughter Campbell in 2001.
"I only wanted to make one more move. I have a young family, and I wanted to have roots somewhere and I felt Connecticut was the place to be. I loved living here when I was first here."
"I just felt that God was telling me to be here. We had lost Caroline when we moved to Milwaukee in 1997, and so when everything came together to come back to Connecticut, it was almost as if God was saying to me, ‘You need to go back to Connecticut; this is where you need to be.’ And I had just had Campbell so it was almost full circle for me."
The hospitals’ neo-natal intensive care units are wide open, Maminta notes, "and these tiny little miracles are trying to survive. They’re fighting for their lives... they just came out too soon."
Caroline was at 30 weeks when born but had development issues that limited her weight to under two pounds."It was very traumatic for me, as well, because my placenta abrupted in a grocery store (in East Haven). I started bleeding heavily. I had just been, two days before, diagnosed with toximia. My parents were with me and rushed me to the hospital emergency room... It was horrible, probably the worst thing I’ve ever had to experience in my life.
"Doctors worked very hard to keep Caroline inside but you couldn’t stop her. They did an emergency Caesarian."
Low-weight babies have a number of health issues to deal with, she notes, which was true with Caroline. And yet, "She was doing really well for about a month, and then she developed NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis); her intestines weren’t developing well, were perforated and then infection set in. So they had emergency surgery and tried to repair her intestines and she just didn’t make it. She was in there two months and a day.
"We weren’t prepared for this. When my doctors told me about it, I was in this cold, sterile breastfeeding room in the unit. I had no idea what they were teling me. I was so numb. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I could hear them but... They were saying she’s in serious trouble and she may not make it. They were being very tactful... and I said, ‘Are you trying to tell me my baby might die?’ I had to basically ask them bluntly because I want to know the truth. And she made it through that surgery and was with us a few more weeks after that. She fought hard, she really did."
Months after her death, "we wanted to really do something for the unit. The doctors and the nurses, those people are special people who work in that unit. We knew we received the best care possible. When we walked out of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital that morning, we knew the doctors had done all they could. ... And we wanted to do something for families who follow in our footsteps. So it was a few months later... when we came up with this idea that, because of the fact that when Caroline was dying in our arms, they put up this partition. And that was all that was shielding us from everyone else. Sure the other parents were asked to leave the room but all we had was that cloth partition in the middle of all these babies trying to survive."
With one of the Caroline’s Rooms, "it’s like a living room, a safe haven for families where they can go and talk to their doctors in private, where they can perhaps hold that baby for the first time and maybe the last time. It could be the place where the baby is baptized. In this room, if it is perhaps that moment where we know the baby is no longer going to be living, grandparents and parents and uncles, everybody can come and see the baby in private. And that’s what it’s all about, giving families that dignity, that privacy that you need. When you’re in that neonatal intenstive care unit, it’s such a roller-coaster ride emotionally, and you need a safe haven."
The first C.R. opened at YN-H, three followed in Texas and the fifth was opened in June at the Children’s Medical Center at Hartford Hospital. There are plans to open more, one at the Columbia Medical Center in Roanoke, Va., and another at Danbury Hospital, and then other places throughout the country.
Through carolinesroom.org and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Maminta and Doyens are hoping to raise awareness and fund this work for more Caroline’s Rooms (as long as there is space available in the given hospital unit). Not that it takes a lot of room. "At Yale-New Haven, it’s a very small room. It fits six people maybe. But it’s used constantly, and it’s right in the middle of the unit."
"There are people who’ve stopped me on the sidewalk and thanked me and said, ‘I’ve been in Caroline’s Room.’ ... While there have been some sad outcomes, there are many, many more where you celebrate life. There are more kids who survive than don’t. So it can be a place for someone to just talk to their doctor in private or pray with their minister. A Texas Caroline’s Room actually has an annex where families can spend the night the night before the baby is going to be discharged."
On the different shifts she has worked:
"There’s a big difference between anchoring a morning show and an evening show. The morning is much more light-hearted and you’re able to get away with more things. In the evening, you’re a lot more serious. The shows are lot tighter. You’re telling people what happened that day. You have to know who your audience is. Mostly at 5 o’clock there are a lot of women watching. You have consumer stories... stories that are appealing to people home at that time (people coming home from work, retirees, etc.). You try to tailor it to those people.
Changes in the business:
"Technology has changed a lot, we use our helicopter, Chopper 8. People love that, and they want to know what’s going on. The Internet is a big factor; we’ve just started blogging."
On her return co-anchoring with Keith Kountz.
"It’s wonderful that Keith and I are paired up again. Five a.m. to 5 p.m. Remember when we did the morning show and now the 5 p.m.! It’s great. Coming home again and pairing with Keith made it so easy. That 5 o’clock hour, we talk about it all the time. That it’s the easiest hour of our day because everything leading up to that newscast has so much intenstity. You’re putting the newscast together, especially if breaking news happens. You’re trying to figure out where it’s all going to go, how we’re going to present it. And finally, when you’re sitting in front of that camera, it’s just a comfortable feeling. You’re sitting next to someone you know very well, and you’re talking with the people you’ve known for so long."Sounds like a promo, Jocelyn.
"No, truly, people feel it. People tell you that. They feel comfortable. Anchor teams are difficult to pair up."
Does she worry about ratings?
"Sure, I look at them everyday. We get the overnights. It’s part of the business. Both Keith and I are very competitive. We like doing well. We’re a strong No. 2 right now."
On not being able to use ratings for Bridgeport viewers in this market:
"It doesn’t make sense that the largest city in Connecticut is in the New York market. Does that make sense to you. It’s a disservice to the people of Bridgeport because they (New York stations) are not covering Bridgeport. I can’t imagine people living in Bridgeport not watching local news when we’re covering them better..."

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