She is one of the most recognizable women in Lansing. And she should be. After 25 years on the air at WLNS-TV (CBS-Channel 6), Jane Aldrich is a beloved news anchor many in Mid-Michigan invite into their living rooms every evening.
In addition to being recognizable, she is also deeply involved in the community — leading numerous fundraising and other actions to support nonprofits throughout the region. From BoarsHead Theater in 1993, to the more recent Make a Difference Day in which WLNS collected food and other donations for food banks and shelters.
That community connection is what drives her — privately and publicly — she said in a recent interview with Lansing Online News.
â€œThereâ€™s more than meets the eye in our experiences,â€ Aldrich says. â€œWe are spiritual beings having a human experience.â€
For her, that all boils down to one truth which drives her.
â€œWe all have a spark of the divine. All of us are of the same creator. We are all one,â€ she says.
She arrived at this understanding years ago. But four years ago, she declared to her husband Kipp Bohne of WSYM Fox 47, that she was going to push to be a part time reporter with WLNS so she could pursue what she says is a spiritual calling and to spend time with her daughter who was entering high school.
â€œI decided I am going to say to them [WLNS] â€˜I donâ€™t want to anchor. I want to contribute, but I want to be home when my daughter comes home,â€™â€ she said. â€œI figured they would just look at me like, â€˜yeah, right.â€™â€
Aldrich says Bohne was skeptical.
â€œYouâ€™re nuts,â€ she recalls him saying.
And then something happened. WLNS agreed to her requests. To top it off? She launched a new segment called â€œTell me something good,â€ which features good news events and stories often overlooked in todayâ€™s â€˜if it bleeds, it leadsâ€™ media culture.
â€œI got to be home with my daughter when she got home from school for the first time in her life,â€ says Aldrich. But she also started to re-shape the way local news could look.
â€œItâ€™s a fear based mechanism. Itâ€™s almost habit,â€ she says of the news industry. â€œIâ€™m going back at this with a different focus. Are we doing this because it is the itâ€™s been done before? Or do we have something new? Do we want to scare people into watching, or do we want to encourage people to watch the news?â€
She acknowledges local news requires coverage of issues like the string of armed robberies that have captured headlines over the last several weeks. But she says that has to be balanced with opportunities to learn more and to go beyond the time frame usually dedicated to broadcast news.
That she says is where the Internet has begun to revolutionize the way news is understood and delivered today. Through the way news is delivered, news agencies can deliver news that not only informs, but provides connections to assistance or to connect people to engage in doing more.
But she warns the Internet could be a double edged sword. First, people have to learn to become savvy news consumers, able to sift fact from fiction in the ever growing world of hyper-local and hyper-specific blogs. Second, she notes, people have to remember that social networking sites are not a substitute for human connection.
â€œWe have gotten so tech savvy, thereâ€™s no one on one. Theyâ€™ve lost the personal contact,â€ she says.
She laughs when itâ€™s pointed out that television in some ways does the same thing.
â€œThatâ€™s the irony. What Iâ€™m hoping is that the essence of me, my heart, comes through to peopleâ€™s homes,â€ Aldrich says.
NOTE: If you would like to join us for the luncheon honoring Jane at Gone Wired on Wednesday, December 29 at noon, please click here to donate $20 to the Women’s Center Greater Lansing in Jane’s name. Reservations will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, December 28.