Correspondent Lori Jane Gliha has a passion for truth -- and songwriting. Learn more about the Emmy Award-winning journalist and her move to Al Jazeera America’s flagship program.
What is your role in the company?
I’m a national correspondent for America Tonight, so I'm covering stories across the U.S. It’s very exciting because I’m traveling and moving in the different pockets of life around the country to bring awesome stories to viewers.
What is a typical day in the office like for you?
We’re still getting used to what a typical day looks like, since the program has yet to air. Every week so far has looked completely different. In the first week of work, we did some training. During the second week, I was sent to New York to see the headquarters there, and after that I dove right into traveling and setting up interviews. I was just in Atlanta for one of our stories. We interviewed a family whose son died a couple years ago due to a heat-related illness.
What kinds of projects and stories do you hope to be working on in the near future?
I hope that once we get on the air, people from around the world and around the country will start submitting their ideas because we want to really find those solid, eye-opening untold stories. I came from an investigative unit in Phoenix, so I would also love to be able to cover some investigative-type stories as well.
What’s the most rigorous assignment you’ve ever taken on?
In terms of being emotionally rigorous, I covered a few different types of suicide stories. There were four suicides in our local fire department in Phoenix, and they all occurred within a span of seven months. I had to track down who those men were, what happened, and what caused them to take their own lives. I spoke to their families and watched them become emotional while sharing their stories. It was tough, but after the story aired people from around the country – different fire departments – contacted me and asked me for more information about what was happening in Phoenix. I know that that story saved somebody’s life along the way, so that definitely made it worth it. I followed up with that fire department, and other fire departments, as they implemented new procedures to handle mental health issues in the same way that they handled physical issues. I later did a slew of stories on suicides and reported on them for years, and because of my background with the fire story I was able to really understand and better report on the issue I was covering.
I also spent a lot of time covering the ATF Fast and Furious scandal, the weapons scandal in which agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were accused of allowing criminals to acquire guns and didn’t pay attention to where those weapons were going. That was a very rigorous assignment as well. I had to track down whether any of those weapons ended up at crime scenes in Phoenix, and I had to build a lot of sources to gather the information. It took months and months of working sources to find some internal records I was able to track directly to crime scenes in Arizona. I really cared about that story and wanted to know what was going on in my own backyard in Phoenix.
How did you get to this point in your career?
My career path started in local news. I went to the University of Southern California, where I studied broadcast journalism and minored in Spanish. Then I took my first job as a general assignment reporter in Lansing, Mich., at the NBC station there. I worked my way up to different markets, and after about five and a half years of Michigan, I got the job to come to my hometown in Phoenix, Arizona, where I worked for the last six and a half years. I started as a general assignment reporter and did multimedia journalism, where I ended up shooting some of my own stuff and editing it. I was also the weekend anchor there. Then for the last three years, I was an investigative reporter. A few months ago I decided to see what else was out there, and this opportunity at Al Jazeera America seemed so awesome that I jumped at it.
What influenced you to pursue journalism?
One of the reasons I became a journalist is because I trust myself more than anybody else to get the information right. Accuracy and truthfulness are the most important things to me. Ethics are also crucial, and I feel like whoever is becoming a journalist needs to have those values as top priorities. I also love being able to learn about so many different types of people and bring their stories to others. I think this job is a unique opportunity because you’re learning every day, and it’s great to have the opportunity to enlighten others through what you’ve learned as well.
What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
I’m looking forward to continuing what I’ve already started here and having the opportunity to work on incredible stories with incredible coworkers. I feel really lucky to be working with so many people who have such lengthy and high-profile journalism careers. I can’t wait to cover the amazing and intriguing stories we’ll be taking on.
What has been the most interesting place that you’ve traveled to on assignment?
The most interesting trip for me was the one I took at the very end of my last job. When I worked in Phoenix, I followed a father to Mexico City as he tried to bring his son home after the child’s mother took the boy. It was really nice to witness a different culture outside the United States. There was also another assignment when I visited a little tiny town in Arizona called Congress, and it was just fascinating to see the different storefronts that were there and walking along the fence between Arizona and Mexico. But of course, I think you can find a little favorite piece in every place you go that you’ve never experienced before.
What’s currently on your desk?
I have my calendar, which is filled with highlighted dates of when I’m traveling. This is the first job where I’m traveling a lot. My suitcase is right next to my desk because I’m ready to leave tonight, and I also have about 20 Post-its with different notes to myself.
What is your favorite book?
I know it's not the standard answer, but my notebooks filled with lyrics I've written to go along with my guitar playing are probably my favorite. I spend a lot of my time writing music lyrics in my composition book.
How has your passion for music and songwriting helped and inspired your career as a journalist?
I did once write a couple songs about my job, but they were more like parodies. I like to play my guitar when I get home. If I ever have a stressful day, it helps to play and let it out. It also helps with my creativity. As I was preparing to write one of my first stories for Al Jazeera America the other day, I ran into some writers’ block. Then I remembered that I have this creativity in me and that I could do it even when I hit a roadblock. And eventually, the ideas for the story flowed naturally. I guess you could say my career and my songwriting cross over that way. Music is where I find my inspiration.