Taking the Lead
Greenwood Community High School Alum Sierra Hignite Talks Excitement For New WISH-TV Gig
Writer / Megan Stephens
Sierra Hignite stands confidently in front of the camera and reports on the happenings of Central Indiana. Finding stories, interviewing subjects, shooting video footage, writing, editing and tying it all together is all in a days work. Her new title as a multimedia reporter and journalist at WISH-TV in Indianapolis has been her latest step in her storytelling journey. As a Greenwood Community High School and Indiana University graduate, Hignite brings justice to her community by telling their stories.
On the 5-6 o’clock news during weekdays, you can see Hignite reporting on Channel 8 about everything — from how Two Chicks and a Hammer donated horses to IMPD’s mounted patrol to the housing market in Indianapolis. You’ll also be able to catch her on the nightly news during the weekend.
However, the road to get where she currently is didn’t happen overnight. Her first job was babysitting, then retail. In her younger days, you might have seen her selling shoes at Finish Line in the Greenwood Park Mall. During her school years, she participated in Greenwood’s journalism program. She was on the newspaper staff as an entertainment editor and she worked with the school’s broadcast program. This was the first time Hignite got a taste of what it would be like to be a storyteller.
“It’s what sparked my interested [in journalism],” she says. “I didn’t know why I liked it, but I knew that I did.”
However, once she dawned the gown, threw her cap in the air and graduated high school, she set out for college to major in chemistry — she was determined to become a dentist. But while at a dentist’s office where she had to observe an oral procedure taking place, she almost passed out. That’s when she realized dentistry was not for her. Journalism would be the path she’d take.
Once she changed majors, Hignite knew that the IU Media School was her rightful home. During her college years, she worked on IUSTV, a student-run television station at IU, where she was a reporter and news director.
“[IUSTV] really solidified that this is what I want to do and this is how I want to do it,” Hignite says.
Her two influences were Anne Ryder, one of her IU professors who worked for 30 years in television news, and Catt Sadler, an entertainment reporter best known for her work in E! News.
“They’re cool on TV but they’re genuinely good people,” Hignite says. “I look up to them in a lot of ways, as women, as professionals, and as individuals.”
Hignite graduated college in May 2017 and got a job as a reporter for WTWO-TV in Terre Haute where she worked as a reporter and anchor.
It was during her time at WTWO-TV where she covered the story about Billy Joe Henry, how he found God on the floor of the Vigo County jail and then opened a church. It was for this story that she won a Wilbur Award — one of the oldest awards in journalism. “
Being able to win something prestigious within a group that is so important to me and that I identify with was really nice,” Hignite says.
Although she was in Indiana, Terre Haute didn’t quite feel like home. She kept her eyes out for opportunities back in Indy. Seeing an opening for a reporter at WISH-TV, she applied quickly. After several months of waiting, she finally heard from the news director that they’d like to give her an interview, then things went fast. Her interview was on a Tuesday, she had an offer by Wednesday, and four weeks later in March 2019, she was on the job.
Now five months in, she says she feels more comfortable with the atmosphere and she loves chasing bigger stories. Sometimes mercury is in retrograde, crime strikes and the flashing blue and red lights tell her there is a story. Other times she has to go out and find stories herself.
“Finding a story is random searching and not closing any doors,” she says. “The stories that are my favorite are those where you can see change. I like to give people a voice who wouldn’t necessarily have one on [the TV] platform.”
In journalism, they say that you’re with someone during their best days and worst days. The hardest part of her job is covering death. Deaths, no matter how they happen, the news covers them — and for Hignite, she is deeply affected by those whose stories she captures.
“I always think about it in that you’re telling a story of a person who is hurt, and who better to tell it than the person closest to them,” Hignite says.
So while she’s out telling the stories of the community, she is also living her own. Making it this far so early in her career was never intended but she knows that being in Indy, giving justice to those who need it most and helping people is her favorite part of it all.
“My biggest goal for myself professionally isn’t to hold a certain position or work at a certain station, but it is more so just to keep growing and making an impact,” Hignite says.