- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Newscaster Shawn Yancy has been a fixture on the District’s Fox affiliate, WTTG, for 15 years, but on the new Sarah Fraser-anchored Fox 5 podcast, “I Still Have a Keycard,” the former Indianapolis reporter has opened up to the public as never before, discussing how she became pregnant unexpectedly while still in college.

“I thought it would be important for me to share my story. I wanted people to know there are other young ladies who may find themselves in a similar situation,” Ms. Yancy told The Washington Times during a break from her busy schedule at Fox 5. “And I wanted them to know that it’s possible to achieve whatever they wanted to achieve.”

Ms. Yancy, whose parents assisted during her own pregnancy, has made a point to work to help expectant and young mothers whose support systems may be lacking. Accordingly, she has pitched for the St. Ann’s Center for Youth and Families, a District-area foundation whose mission it is to assist “vulnerable children, mothers and families out of poverty and homelessness.” Girls’ Night Out, Ms. Yancy’s charity organization, donated a truck full of toys to St. Ann’s last Christmas, and St. Ann’s will be the beneficiary of Ms. Yancy’s upcoming charity event. 

“Their main goal is helping young women when they find themselves pregnant,” Ms. Yancy, who is married and has three sons, said of the charity. “It’s more important for me right now.”

Growing up in Indiana, Ms. Yancy was inspired by newscaster Barbara Boyd, who was the first black anchor in the entire state. Ms. Boyd frequently hosted a segment called “Ask the Doctor,” on which Ms. Yancy’s own pediatrician father, Dr. Eric A. Yancy, appeared several times.

“I remember as a child watching her and thinking, ‘I want to be just like her when I grow up,’” Ms. Yancy recalled. “It was seeing what she did that inspired me to want to do what I do.”

Ms. Yancy cut her broadcast teeth at her first TV job in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before moving on to the District. Something Ms. Yancy Fox 5’s audience may not have known is that she started her job in the nation’s capital on Sept. 10, 2001. Her second day on the job, by even the most conservative reckoning, was a trial by fire.

“I was pulling into the parking lot at Fox 5 and listening to WTOP radio, and I just heard the plane hit the Pentagon,” she recalls of the 9/11 attacks. “The news director at the time looked at me and said, ‘Yancy, your week of getting to know things around here is over.’”

Ms. Yancy and a crew raced to film the destruction at the Pentagon as firefighters worked to put out the conflagration from where the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 had smashed into the west wall of the nation’s military intelligence center.

“As a reporter, being involved in [an event] like that, it was a terrible introduction to Washington, D.C., but at the same time, it was an incredible introduction,” she said. “Not only was I reporting on one of the worst tragedies ever to hit our country, but I was telling incredible stories and getting to meet people how had been through so much. And I [saw] the resilience and the way we came together in the days and weeks after 9/11, and that was incredible to be a part of.”

Part of the impetus for “I Still Have a Keycard” was so that District audiences could get to know the Fox 5 team not just as media professionals, but as working people who face the same work-life balance as their listeners.

“I still think, as a mom, I have guilt because I work nights and I miss out on a lot of things with my kids,” Ms. Yancy said of the demands of her chosen profession. “We do a lot of FaceTiming.”

She believes it’s up to every parent to determine what works for their own family needs, particularly when one must work.

“As a working mom, you have to be able to forgive yourself and know there’s nothing wrong with it,” she said. “I would love to get to a point in society where working moms or working dads don’t feel guilt over going to work.

“I like to say that I’m glad my kids get to see me working. They’ve known that since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to do this, and I’ve been able to achieve my dreams.”

At the same time, she doesn’t begrudge parents who elect to stay at home. It’s about choice, she says, and determining how best to contribute to childrearing in each situation. However, the priorities in America of worshipping labor at the neglect of family can take their toll.

“I know we get vacation times, but I wish there was a way to schedule it so that kids’ schedules also matched their parents so that we as a society get to spend more time with our kids,” Ms. Yancy said, adding she would like to see the U.S. adopt a model similar to many European countries, which are generous with family leave time.

In her decade and a half since coming to the nation’s capital, Ms. Yancy has seen the news business change thanks to both technology and media. TV news, she said, is almost an afterthought sometimes in a 24-7 society where Facebook, Twitter and other social media blast out information long before the cameras roll on the evening newscast.

“Television news has had to evolve to keep up, and I think Fox 5 started leading the way early,” she said of her employers. “When Twitter came out, we jumped on Twitter. We were some of the first people to do Facebook Live where we were broadcasting live using Facebook to reach our audience in different ways.”

The danger of social media, she said, is that the truthfulness of its newsfeeds can, at best, often be suspect.

“We’ve had to evolve to tell stories sort in a different way to make sure they’re just as compelling” as online information, Ms. Yancy said. “And we know that … people have looked at our app or Twitter, but we try to tell stories or add things to stories that have not been told yet on social media.

“It’s a struggle sometimes to keep up with that evolution,” she said. “But I think we have done [and] are continuing to do it.”

To hear episodes of “I Still Have a Keycard,” go to Fox5dc.com/podcast. Follow Shawn Yancy on Twitter at @ShawnYancy.

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