A quick chat with Surfside resident & legendary newswoman Natalie Jacobson
N MAGAZINE: What did you love most about being a news anchor?
JACOBSON: What I loved most was working with caring and talented people who wanted to bring information to those who watched that would make their lives better. An anchor wears two hats: one representing her station and colleagues, another representing those who trusted us enough to watch. I loved the interaction with our viewers.
N MAGAZINE: You covered so many stories over the course of your career. Any favorites?
JACOBSON: My favorite story was the one I was covering that day.
Lasting memories come from the stories that reached us, in New England, as a people: a 30 second spot highlighting 4 children who looked for adoption. Those 30 seconds produced homes for hundreds of kids. For me it proved the power of the medium.
Our coverage of a visit from Queen Elizabeth in l976 – 8 hours of live programming, recalling the history of our country from Faneuil Hall to the old city hall. That broadcast brought hundreds if not thousands of people from throughout New England to Boston, saying they just had to be there, to touch it, feel it. For me, that proved TV could bring people together.
911 and the unprecedented attack on our country. We in the news department experienced it with our viewers as it happened, unable to garner any perspective. The overriding effort I felt was to stay calm and be factual. For me, that nightmare again showed that the strength of our region and nation resides within its citizens. For that day at least, we stood as one.
N MAGAZINE: How have you seen the news industry evolve?
JACOBSON: The news world has changed enormously as has life in this country. Once the nation came together at 6 o’clock and watched one of three network news shows putting millions of people on the same page.
Now there is cable, which is personality and ideology driven, and also the internet where people pick and choose what they want to know and where people can present as fact, what may or may not be accurate. Local news, while more infotainment than I might like, is still telling people what is happening in their communities.
Overall, we have become uselessly divisive and partisan and clearly the media feed the divisions. There was a time when presenting facts without a biased viewpoint was expected. Now it is difficult to find a source for accurate, non opinionated information.
N MAGAZINE: What first brought you to Nantucket?
JACOBSON: My former husband and I, each pilots, used to rent single engine planes at Norwood airport and fly around New England. We flew to Nantucket, met Pete Guild and the Anglers Club, and never stopped coming back. Nantucket was paradise in our own backyard, the ultimate respite from a very hectic schedule.
N MAGAZINE: What do you love about living in Surfside?
JACOBSON: Surfside remains the Nantucket we fell in love with in 1974. Surfside people help each other and rely on one another. Life centers on the beach where someone will say, “My place for dinner” and everyone shouts, “What can I bring?”
N MAGAZINE: What are your favorite things to do on the island?
JACOBSON: I love golf, boating, cooking, reading and learning new things. Most of all I love sharing it all with family, and friends, including those I haven’t met yet.
N MAGAZINE: If you could change anything about Nantucket, what would it be?
JACOBSON: I wish we would create more housing for the people who work here but cannot afford to live here anymore.
N MAGAZINE: What do you think is the biggest news story on the island today?
JACOBSON: Protecting and preserving our island environmentally and learning how to grow as a community with the greater influx of immigrants, especially families with children and the demands that places on our schools and the people who pay for them.
N MAGAZINE: If you were asked to create a time capsule for Nantucket so that people could understand the island 200 years from now, what would you put in it?
JACOBSON: Nat Philbrick’s books; A jar of sand; A video including interviews and profiles of people who live here; aerial photos of the island, the town and the beaches; a copy of the Inquirer and Mirror, and, of course, N Magazine.