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Branson Tri-Lakes News Reporter Jason Wert

I want to make it clear at the outset that this article is being written under protest.

I was informed after signing my employment agreement when a new journalist comes on board with the Branson Tri-Lakes News that they write an article about themselves and their background. Unfortunately, the idea of writing an article such as this is antithesis to what I’ve learned over the years as a journalist, thus my futile struggle against the powers that be to avoid this column.

I began my career over 35 years ago, so I guess that I qualify as “old school” when it comes to how you report and present the news.  I learned the craft from disciples of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Ben Bradlee. 

These professors and editors were hard core journalists who made it very clear that unless you get arrested, you were not to be part of the story.  I know that sounds unusual in a day and age of CNN’s Jim Acosta jumping in front of any camera he can find, but the best journalists are the ones not seeking to be a household name.

However, since I’ve been ordered to share a bit of my background, I’ll start at the very boring beginning.  When I was in high school in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, they would take all 10th graders and make us spend two days working in the community at a business where we had an interest. I’d always loved radio, and the local radio station was literally at the top of the hill from our high school, so I spent two days sitting in with the program director.

That auspicious beginning led to moving to eight states, pulling the WKRP up-and-down-the-dial life, until I eventually ended up working for USA Radio Networks.  I was news director for a network of over 500 affiliates along with anchoring midday newscasts.

The network job led to one of my career highlights, anchoring coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  That ranked just above the time I shared a sandwich with former President Bill Clinton.  This was long before I moved to the Ozarks and found out that it was actually pretty common to have Bill Clinton mooch a part of your lunch.

Following my network adventures, I returned to the Ozarks and launched an independent newspaper in Springfield called Ozarks Independent.  We provided in-depth coverage of Springfield city government and Greene County government.  However, we also covered some Branson government issues and did reviews of Branson shows.  So while I bring the new reporter smell to the Tri-Lakes News (which is a mix of bacon scent and desperation) I have been keeping a moderate journalistic eye on Branson city operations.

Now, Branson city government will be getting my full attention, and I’ll be giving headaches to Taney and Stone County Commissioners as well.  My goal is to reach “oh crap” status with local officials, as in when they do something they know is wrong, seeing my name on their call back log will solicit a verbal “oh crap.”

Oh, and I promise you that I will learn how to edit my stories so that I don’t run out of space for more inane things like

(4) comments


Bacon and desperation? I spit coffee. Funny. Welcome to Branson.


And you put crap as one of your keyword searches...that's not how I found it, by the way,


I would really like to see the lack of funding for our local library and public transportation to be explored. We have an overwhelming amount of locals who rely on costly cab services. As for the library, it’s sickening that it receives no government funding. This is a place that can change lives.

Library Girl

Aurora23 - I agree with your comments about library funding. Many residents are unaware that Taney County is one of four MO counties without a publicly-funded library. Jason could have a lot of fun with this one!

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