Bay-area journalist Kira Klapper faked it until she made it

Kira Klapper speaks to BU journalism students.
Kira Klapper speaks to BU journalism students.

California newswoman Kira Klapper doesn’t sleep often. But that’s not news.

During her typical news day as a reporter for ABC-7 in the Bay Area, Klapper wakes up at 1 a.m., arrives at work at 3 a.m. and goes on the air by 4:30 a.m. with a smile and a story. She’s become a professional insomniac, dedicating the free time she has to her husband and friends as opposed to the sleep most human beings need to survive. Don’t call her a superwoman, however – it’s all a part of her job.

Just returning from a month of unpaid vacation, Klapper visited her alma mater when she spoke to BU College of Communication students in a class on Tuesday. Her nails are meticulously trimmed, curls tumble down her shoulders with no hair out of place, and her eyebrows, which jump with exuberance as she discusses her life as a broadcast journalist, are beautifully shaped and carefully groomed – eternally camera ready. As she rejects the compliments she receives for her appearance with the wave of one manicured hand, she brushes any praise for her work with the other, even after she climbed the broadcast journalism to a high-profile Bay Area news station seven years after graduation. Klapper refuses to swell with pride and, in her own words, fakes it until she makes it.

Klapper returned to Los Angeles after graduating from Boston University with no resume reel (the hard drive containing four years of her college work was stolen from her apartment while she lived in Boston), but that didn’t stop her from moving forward. The young clapper found a position at ABC-7 as a production assistant, filming her own versions of stories as she shadowed reporters in her free time.  Soon, she had a full reel and could move from behind the scenes in the San Francisco area to on air in the thrilling …Mankato, Minn., where she worked for nine months as a “one-man band”: She did her own camerawork and stood in front of the camera itself, writing stories as they came and learning on the job.  From Mankato she moved to sunny Santa Barbara, Calif., where she anchored for the morning broadcast for two years, worked for a brief stint in Chico, Calif. as an evening anchor, before moving back to ABC-7 as a reporter and fill-in anchor.

Now, Klapper has returned to her roots, running to the scene when the news happens. For instance, in the case of a fire: Before she goes on air, she rarely gets a quote from the policemen or firemen, so she scans the scene for the story herself. She checks to see if other homes appear damaged, how people react to the fire, etc., and simply describes the scene. In other words, she fakes it until she makes it.

“You learn to be very observant,” she said.

But if Klapper had her choice of stories, she would report on the good news, not the bad.

“I like to cover the happy stories,” she said. “They’re so rare.”

A particularly happy story, Klapper remembered, was about Dan Jones,  man in Northern California who sent two tickets to the Oakland zoo in a bottle. A homeless man picked up the bottle and told the man that he didn’t want tickets to the zoo — he wanted a meal. Jones went beyond a simple plate of food, and, with the help of his community, gave the man new shoes, warm clothes and a bicycle, as well as something to eat.

“You feel very blessed when people let you into their homes to let you tell them what’s happening in their community,” Klapper said of broadcast reporting. “It’s a privilege.”

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