When you think about the news climate we live in today, where on a 24/7 schedule events are unfolding, and just as quickly being reported either on the news or via social media, it is quite daunting. With so many sources to choose from thanks to the Internet, and cable television news outlets, trying to nail down who is credible, and likeable to watch is difficult. I remember as a kid sitting down to watch the local evening news with my parents and knowing not to speak until commercials because my parents were so tuned in to what was being said.
Growing up listening to the same news anchors each day, I had no idea how that was forming the types of broadcasters I would gravitate to. And ending the evening with the 11:00 P.M. news signified you were finishing the day up-to-speed on what was going on in the world. Yet, even with so many options for news available today, most people still rely on their favorite local anchor, whom they let into their homes every day, much like an old friend, to inform them of the day’s topics. For many Suncoast residents, Hayley Wielgus, news anchor for ABC 7 News is that trusted person.
As anchor for the 5:00 P.M., 6:00 P.M., and 11:00 P.M. news broadcasts on ABC 7, Hayley Wielgus is a major player in local news. With two hours of on-air broadcasting daily, combined with preparation time, she is fully immersed in the journalism world. One would think with a schedule like that, there wouldn’t be time for mentoring at-risk youths, serving as a swim coach for special needs children, writing a blog, or planning a wedding with the entire Suncoast watching, but she somehow manages to do it all. Her days find her heading to work around 3:00 P.M. and not finishing until 12:30 A.M, and as grueling as that sounds, she loves it.
Hayley, a graduate of Texas A&M University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, joined the ABC 7 News Team in 2011. She relocated to Sarasota from Texas where she worked as a news anchor. She also spent time covering politics in Washington D.C. while working for Bloomberg TV, and recently had the opportunity to cover the Democratic National Convention in Pennsylvania. A well-known love story ensued when she met her future husband, Max Winitz, at her job interview at ABC 7, (she received a Facebook friend request from him by the time she boarded her plane back to Texas). A televised personal interest segment chronicled their engagement and wedding, which was held at the Sarasota Yacht Club in 2015, much to the delight of interested viewers. Her endearing and concise broadcasting manner, combined with her friendly delivery style, has resulted in favorable ratings for both her and the news channel.
One of the many attributes of Hayley’s broadcasting that attracts loyal viewers is the way she has immersed herself into the community in very charitable and substantial ways. Since relocating to Sarasota, she has found her stride as an advocate for those less fortunate. Her love for swimming led her to become a certified swim coach for the Special Olympics, and, even though her schedule has prohibited her from an extensive coaching involvement this year, she still attends the meets. She has a special seventh grade friend whom she mentors as a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast. She enjoys spending time with the young girl, going to lunch, shopping, and even spending time together at the news studio. One of her favorite events that she is involved in is Women in a Changing World, hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County Women Ambassadors. The forum features a panel of distinguished women discussing their experiences and issues they face, as well as offering amazing encouragement and advice to others. Hayley has been a panelist in the past, and will be moderating the event for a second year this coming October at Asolo Repertory Theatre.
As a respected journalist, and somebody who can be counted on giving back to the community, Hayley has good advice to give to budding journalists, or perhaps, like many of us, people who have had a secret love of journalism that they are now exploring. Her advice is to read a lot and to know a little something about everything. She recommends shadowing somebody in the news field to see if a journalist’s everyday schedule is something one could handle or desire. She feels that every journalist should also be a writer of their own work at some point. And above all, have a passion for what you’re doing, or don’t do it. Sound advice, coming from one of the Suncoast’s most respected news anchors! And also a great reminder that no matter how busy we feel we are, there is always time to give back and pay it forward. For more information about ABC 7 News and Hayley Wielgus, please visit www.mysuncoast.com.
photos from Haley Wielgus & Faceook