CLEVELAND — A Sunday night newscast after the Golden Globes is how Russ Mitchell made his 3News debut before the Cleveland-Akron-Canton television market. He was flanked by Jim Donovan and Betsy Kling on that night, and still works alongside them 10 years later.
A lot has changed in our community since 2012. 3News Senior Commentator Leon Bibb sat down with Russ to reflect on the past decade, the challenge of covering the news today, and what he thinks of being a "Clevelander."
Leon Bibb: "So how does it feel? Ten years in this market!"
Russ Mitchell: "It's hard to believe. It feels like I just pulled up in front of Channel 3! Ten years. A lot has happened in the world a lot has happened to me, a lot is happening in Cleveland. So I would say it's a wonderful feeling that it's been a decade. "
Leon: "You are a Clevelander now — a Greater Clevelander. How are we doing?"
Russ: "This is home. When I got here, it was, it was home with a small "h." Now it's home with a capital "H." I think we're doing great, and I think we're in an incredible time in Cleveland's history. We have a new mayor, we have new leaders coming in with other civic organizations, [a] younger, new breed coming in, so I think the next couple years in particular are gonna be exciting for Cleveland as this new group takes over."
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Leon: "You have both outsider and insider eyes, being here for 10 years. How are we doing as a city?"
Russ: "Cleveland, like so many Midwest cities, former industrial rustbelt cities, is going through several changes right now, figuring out what is our next move. When you look at other cities in that same situation, certainly Cleveland is much further ahead.
"I think of the Republican Convention that we got here in Cleveland in 2016, and those are hard to get. It is hard to compete with other cities to get something like that to come to your town. The fact that we were able to nab that and the fact that the city was able to come together to convince the Republican Party that this was the place to have a convention was quite a feat. A lot of cities can't do that."
Leon: "What you think about when you go about your job here as the prime time anchor, what goes through your mind? What does it take to hang in there and do the job day in, day out, good news, bad news in between?"
Russ: "You asking me that question is interesting, because as I said many, many times, and I I'll say over and over again, I'm in the seat — now that I'm in, because you were there first, so if anybody knows what that's like, it's you. But I will humor you.
"The difference between what we deliver now — what we should deliver now — as opposed to when I was first starting and probably when you were starting as well, is we have to give that perspective because by 5 or 6 o'clock in the afternoon, people know what's going on in the world. They've got it from their phone, they've got it from their computer, so we have to give a perspective that we didn't have to give before.
"So every day, when, when I'm looking at that newscast and preparing to go on the air, I think of that: What can I tell the viewer that's different than what he or she has already known about this?"
Leon: "Channel 3 has a promo of a little boy — a 'Russ Mitchell lookalike' — who wants to be a newscaster and grows up to be Russ Mitchell. Was that how you were as a child? Did you see television or news reporting when you were a child? "
Russ: "That kid was much cuter and smarter than I was (laughs) ... I think I always wanted to be in journalism ... but being able to tell all people something they didn't know before, being curious, that always struck me. So yes, I wasn't as advanced as the young man in the commercial. I think they took some cinematic liberties there with the camera and things like that, but the spirit was right, that this is something I've always wanted to do."
Leon: "Leave me with a final thought. Bring it home for me."
Russ: "Ten years. I have been incredibly fortunate not only to have the support of the station in this community, but to have the privilege of telling some important stories.
"'The Miracle in Cleveland' in 2013, I can remember thinking to myself — and I think I said this on the air — 'If there's ever a time in your life when you think that miracles don't happen, think of this day.' Being a part of that, being able to tell people these stories and hopefully give them a perspective they didn't get anywhere else is so rewarding. I hope to be able to tell stories here for a long time."
More from Russ:
- 3News Anchor Russ Mitchell honored with Cleveland Association of Broadcaster's Award of Excellence
- A look back at some of the more lighthearted moments at WKYC Studios in 2021
- 3News' Russ Mitchell moderates virtual Cleveland mayoral town hall with Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley
- WATCH: 3News anchors share words of wisdom for Laura Caso ahead of the arrival of her son