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10 Plus 1: Kelly Cobiella On Hurricane Charley And John Mark Karr

Kelly Cobiella was named a full-time correspondent for CBS News last year after splitting her time between CBS News and Newspath, CBS' news service for affiliate stations. For the past two weeks, she's been in Boulder, Colo., covering the most recent development in the JonBenet Ramsey case for CBS News. Below, she shares some perspective on covering that story and some others that she's covered during her time at CBS News so far.

What do you do at CBS News?

I am a correspondent in the Dallas Bureau, which means I cover stories in Texas and the Great Plains states. It's a big coverage area, including all of Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and beyond. When a story breaks in this region, I hop on a plane. At the most basic level, my job is to interview the main players, write the story and present it on TV.
What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
It's tough when you only have 30 minutes every evening, and two hours in the morning to cover world events. But if I had to choose one issue, it would be the environment.
Give us a great behind the scenes story.
When I was sent to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Charley in 2004, I went to Florida thinking I'd be there for a few days, not two weeks. Every morning after our live shot, the crew and I would make the 30 mile drive to the only open store: Wal-Mart. While everyone else was buying water and food, I was looking for clean clothes. Shopping is one of my favorite pastimes, but I never thought I'd have to use a department store as my closet, and a bathroom stall as my changing room. At least I didn't have to iron anything.
Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
I've been very fortunate. In my two years at CBS, I can't think of time when I was sent on a story that I did not find newsworthy. We have a good team.
If you were not in the news, what would you be doing?
I'd like to think I'd be living in a tiny apartment in some far-away country writing novels. But I'd probably be living in a tiny apartment somewhere in the U.S. producing documentaries.
Do you read blogs? If so, which ones? If not, what do you read on the Internet?
Blogs kept me on top of what people were saying about the Natalee Holloway story, and even gave me a tip or two. I've kept Scared Monkeys, The Political Teen and a few others on my favorites list, but these days I only check what I call the mainstream blogs on a daily basis: Drudge, Slate, and a must for anyone living in Dallas, Maverick. My guilty pleasure is still Gawker, although it seems to have lost some of its zing.
What is the last really great book or movie you've found?
It's a movie, and it's called "Yes." The screenplay is amazing. It's about love, relationships, world affairs and clashing cultures. And it's all done in verse. Big thoughts, I know. But it is one of the most soulful and thought-provoking movies I've seen in a long time.
What is your first memory of TV news?
"60 Minutes." I was about 12 years old when it became part of my Sunday routine. I don't remember the first story I ever saw, but I do remember thinking how amazing it would be to change the world with words. I think that's when I learned the difference between a good story and a great story: a good story just informs, whereas a great story inspires.
If you could change one thing about the profession of journalism, what would it be?
I would take the ratings out of it. The numbers can have a tendency to interfere with the story. Some stories draw more viewers and sell more ads. That's the way it's always been. But that doesn't mean the story has journalistic value.
Who is the most fascinating person you've covered and who was the biggest jerk?
There is no single most fascinating person. From the man drilling an oil well in West Texas to the mother of three trying to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, they're all intriguing to me. I do remember the biggest jerk, though. He was one of my favorite actors, and I had less than five minutes to interview him as part of a movie junket. He was just flat-out rude. I haven't watched any of his movies since.
Finally, a question just for Kelly: Many a media critic is coming down pretty hard on the media for not being skeptical enough about the John Mark Karr development in the Ramsey case, or of over-covering the matter entirely. As one of the reporters who has been covering this story for the past two weeks, what do you think about overall media coverage -- and CBS News' coverage -- of the story?
The John Mark Karr story was one you simply couldn't ignore. I was as shocked as anyone when I heard about the arrest. And I, like so many others, wanted to know more. The Ramsey case, although a terrible tragedy for those involved, is also a great mystery. And who can resist a great mystery? The answer is obvious. I think we did the best we could with what little information we were getting. We reported the facts as we knew them.
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