Betsey Bruce, the first female television journalist reporting hard news in St. Louis, retires | St. Louis Public Radio

Betsey Bruce, the first female television journalist reporting hard news in St. Louis, retires

Dec 20, 2016

Newscaster Betsey Bruce is believed to be the first woman in St. Louis assigned to daily hard news reporting on television. She’s been a professional journalist for 46 years. Last Friday, she began her retirement.

“I haven’t slept in yet,” Bruce told St. Louis on the Air host and former colleague Don Marsh. “I’ve been warned I should not make any real commitments for the first six months.”

Although she ended her career at KTVI (Channel 2), she started her career at KMOV (Channel 4) in 1970. In 2008, she was elected to the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

Bruce said she decided to retire after being offered a generous buy out, realizing that the time after the political season would be an energy let-down, and wanting to devote time to family projects. Perhaps, she said, she might pursue longer-form video in the future.

Bruce reflected on the responsibility she felt as the first female “on the street” reporter in St. Louis.

“It was a dream I had to be a broadcast journalist and when I got to St. Louis I realized there were very few women on the air,” Bruce said. “Diane White did weather at Channel 5, Leigh Shepard co-anchored noon news there, Pat Fontaine was at Channel 4 doing weather and features and Harriett Woods was doing public affairs programs at Channel 11. It wasn’t that these women weren’t doing stories in the field, they did, but I was the first full-time and the first to do hard news on a regular basis.”

At the start of her career, Bruce was worried about making a huge mistake and how that would impact her career being a female journalist in a male-dominated market.

“I couldn’t walk away from the job and expect to come back to it,” Bruce said. “There was a sense that you were at a time that you needed to lay a trail, lay a path. I made a decision early on to think very carefully whether to have a family because you didn’t know how that would blend with the responsibilities of the job.”

Bruce comes from a family of journalists — both of her parents worked in the field — and she said her parents were very proud of her for continuing the legacy.

If Bruce could give one piece of advice to young journalists today, she said it would be “to make sure you really like doing everything in the field.” She said television journalists these days need to be able to shoot with a camera, edit, write for camera, write for web, write for social media and be a personality on screen.

Of the stories she’s covered over the year, Bruce said the one that impacted her the most was her reporting during the protests in Ferguson over the police shooting death of Michael Brown. 

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.