In August, after many years as a news anchor for KOLO News in Reno, Terri Hendry became a public information person for the city of Reno.
What made you make a career change?
A couple things. First of all, the [news] industry itself is changing, and I am not sure that I like where the industry is going. You know, they say, “The golden age of broadcasting ended the day after I got in it.” And that just seems to be true for me. But I’m sure it’s been true for a number of people. So that was one factor. The other factor was my family component. I want to spend time with my daughter—she’s 6 years old—I want to see my husband. And I was working nights and any kind of holiday, and those hours are tough. Those are really tough. And the third thing is, you know, “What do you want to do with your life?” And I’m at that age now where I’m just looking and saying, “What is it I want to do?”
You went to a related field, but on the other side of the table. Has it been difficult making the transition?
No. No. And that’s the scary part. It makes me think maybe I should have done it sooner. Because it hasn’t been an awkward transition, it’s been a very natural transition. And what I’m doing is a total blast. It’s just a total blast. And not only that—we all go into journalism for different reasons, but I think most of us go into it because we want to serve our communities. We just have this higher calling, as it were, to serve. And I feel that I’m doing that now…
In your previous role, you asked questions. In this role, you are questioned. How do you like it?
You know, the strangest part about that is the lack of control. I think as a journalist, it’s a lot easier to be in control. … And I think you have to let that go inside. We have a message to tell. You have information you need to give. And you can’t worry about where the line of questioning is going to go or how somebody’s going to phrase something. You just need to make sure that you communicate, so they understand what you’re saying, and that your message is getting across or your story with that information is getting across. But the control element, you definitely have to let go of that.
Now that you’ve had a few months to be exposed to journalists as inquisitors, what do you think of journalists?
I love media people. I don’t think there’s anything like them. I think they’re very special because I think they’re fast, I think they want to do the right things. I think they’re up against incredible odds with limited resources.
Is your view of the media widely shared in city hall?
I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about media in general. And I guess it’s like that control element—it gets back to that. A lot of people in management positions—and not just in city hall, I think in every sector—like to be in control. That’s what they do every day, and that’s their comfort level. And now they’re with [a journalist], and they’re pushing that envelope, and they’re not in control all of a sudden, and they find that disconcerting.
What do you do if you find yourself in a city hall meeting, and they’re discussing a way of handling a project, and they’re talking about a lesser degree of openness or disclosure than you think would be helpful to them?
You know what I’ve been surprised at, though, Dennis? … I have been shocked at the level of openness. My observation? I think that’s why they hired me, is they want to be more open, that there’s a perception on [the journalism] end, that they’re not open. And that’s because they’re not so accessible because they’re really busy. And that, draw your own conclusions into that. I think they want everybody to know what they’re doing, they want transparency. And they want certain things that they want to get out that the media just is not interested in telling. … And so they’re frustrated by that, too. There’s frustrations on both sides. And it’s misunderstandings, both ways.