When the new season of GIS Spotlight kicks off this Monday, 1 October, the programme will have a new host and a new format.
Ms Heather Hopson, former CITN general assignment reporter, is the new face of the programme, which is produced by Government Information Services. She was appointed its producer/host effective 6 September.
Ms Hopson, who holds a degree in journalism from Michigan State University, brings to the job of producer/host a wealth of experience in broadcast journalism. She expressed her commitment to providing more in-depth information to the public about government’s policies and activities, with some new elements as well.
‘In addition to informing the public, we will focus on areas such as Cayman’s culture, the people, the environment and health and fitness,’ she said.
GIS’ Chief Information Officer Patricia Ebanks said the 15-minute show has been receiving positive feedback and suggestions from the public, and that Ms Hopson’s appointment will give it additional strength.
‘Heather brings the right mix of local and international experience, having worked with some of the leading television networks in the US. She also knows Cayman – the culture, community and government officials – so she can hit the ground running,’ Ms Ebanks noted.
Mr Wesley Emanuel, head of GIS’ electronic media unit, said he is pleased with the quality of shows and the stories told through GIS Spotlight and noted that Ms Hopson will definitely help GIS to better inform and entertain viewers.
‘Heather’s talent and experience; her positive outlook on life; and passion for storytelling that makes a difference, are traits that make her the perfect person to produce and host the GIS Spotlight programme,’ he said.
Ms Hopson’s media career began in her teens, hosting a local radio show in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her college internships included reporting for WELG, a government-access television station in Michigan.
After graduating, she did stints as a producer and off-camera reporter at NBC’s Pittsburgh station, and as news reporter at the CBS and Fox affiliates in Lexington, Kentucky. Ms Hopson moved to Cayman in 2004 to work with CITN, one week before Hurricane Ivan struck the island.
‘A lot of the stories today are connected to Ivan. Even years later, people are still trying to bounce back after being pounded by the hurricane,’ she acknowledged. ‘For me, Ivan helped me to connect to the community. You help to rebuild the community, whether it is through volunteer work, or reporting on the recovery process.’
She feels that the transition from the run-and-gun of daily newscasts to a feature-type format will be positive, as it will give her more time to tell the story in depth. It will also provide an opportunity to explore a wider range of topics.
‘It’s a step further. In local news, you have what’s happening today. With GIS Spotlight, you can do things which are not necessarily time sensitive. You get time to meet more people in the community and do more human interest stories.
‘I think I can take what I have learned over the years and hopefully make GIS Spotlight a better show. I think it is already good. But there is always a desire to do better, no matter what you do.’