Friday, July 24, 2015

Interview with Heather Aveson: New News Director of Somerville Community Access TV

Interview with Heather Aveson: New News Director of Somerville Community Access TV

By Doug Holder

Heather Aveson joined me at the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square to talk about her new role as the News Director of Somerville Community Access TV's program,  Somerville Neighborhood News. Aveson is an energetic woman with an infectious smile, and is as accessible as any of the staff at the station, who I have worked with over the years. From my chat with her I came away with the distinct impression that she abhors the obvious story, and always digs deep into its soft underbelly.

Aveson is no stranger to Somerville. She has lived on Willow Ave., and bought her first house on Lowell St. with her husband, before defecting to the 'burbs. I asked Aveson what she thought about the gentrification of Somerville.  As chance will have it she told me she was working on a story about this very subject. She has already learned that much of the investment in real estate in our community is coming from Russian and Chinese interests.She said, “I am asking, 'Where are we going from here?' I wonder if people who are born and raised in Somerville will be able to continue to live here. I am afraid Somerville may be on the road to becoming a sterile environment -- like say Kendall Square in Cambridge.”

Aveson took over the directorship of Somerville Neighborhood News when the founding director Jane Regan moved on to new horizons. Aveson was a former news producer at WGBH on the 10:00 News with Christopher Lydon. She told me," Chris set the bar very high. He always encouraged me to dig deep.”

Aveson reflected, “ I want to continue Jane's mission of giving a voice to people who don't have a voice.” And some of these people she gave a voice to were the Nepalese community in our city, as well as the janitors at Tufts University who were being laid off, etc... Aveson said he wants to report on stories that are interesting, controversial, and important to the community.

Although SCAT has a a lot of new innovations and cutting-edge technology, it of course can't compare to WGBH where Aveson once worked. Aveson opined, “ Telling a story, is telling a story. It is what you bring into it. I want to be a hands on person with a close relationship with the community.”

When I asked Aveson to talk about her time with Lydon on WGBH her eyes' lit up. She said “ Chris brought a curiosity and passion to his work. We did a diverse group of stories from a local piano builder in Woburn,  to a piece on  Stan Grossfield' (The Boston Globe) war photography concerning the Beirut conflict, and other fascinating stories.”

Aveson told me she also works as a programming coordinator for Wilson Farms in Lexington. She created the famed “ Spooky Hayride” event that has run for the past ten years. She is a strong advocate of urban farming—creating plots to grow veggies amidst the hot asphalt of the city.

Aveson tries to instill in her staff and interns the need to research a story—and to have a sense of history. For instance, instead of  simply writing a story that a new business opening in Somerville, the reporter should ask questions like, "Why did they chose a place to do business where things can change drastically in just a few years, etc... Aveson said, “ You have to be open to the fact that a story unfolds one way,  but it may go in a totally different direction. You have to be flexible"'
I am looking forward to the ongoing changes Aveson will bring---  here... in the Paris of New England.

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