Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 14, 2020

Idle makes jump from TV reporter to legal assistant at Olsen Law Firm

While working in South Florida, Idle covered several national stories, including presidential rallies and the 2019 election recount in Palm Beach County. - Photograph provided

Jillian Idle says she was 6 years old when the television news bug bit her. As her mother prepared dinner, she would watch “Oprah” and then the local and national broadcasts, telling herself she would someday be the person on the screen, confidently delivering stories to viewers.

By the age of 21, she was. But as Idle endeavored to boil complex stories down to the minute and 20 seconds her news director allotted her, a desire to dive deeper into the issues she covered welled within her.

Idle especially wanted to know more about immigration, a hot-button topic she covered in multiple markets.

“I need to master a topic before I feel confident enough to talk about it,” she says. “But I was always touching just the surface of the story. I would talk first with the politicians and then the people who were experiencing it, but I didn’t have the time to learn the how and the why.”

As the new legal assistant of Olsen Law Firm, Idle will have the opportunity to immerse herself in immigration policy and the issues surrounding the intricate and thorny branch of the law.

“Immigration will always be part of our national conversation,” she points out. “It’s the fabric of our country, and whether or not you think it affects you, it does in many ways, from the smallest things to the largest things.”

Idle’s inquisitive nature impressed attorney Terry Olsen as he interviewed the 28-year-old South Florida native. But Idle brings more than her eagerness to learn her job at Olsen Law, she also embodies the qualities Olsen says his practice needs.

“We’re an international office, so I need someone with a national and international mindset who can focus on shifting policy,” he explains. “I also need someone with the ability to understand the many layers of the law. Law is no longer statute, it’s policy, and most of my clients hire me to predict where the law will go and create solutions for them.”

Idle learned about the job opening at Olsen Law from her boyfriend, Ryan Heisey, the assistant men’s golf coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Heisey had heard about the position through Colette Murray, the women’s golf coach at the school and a previous client of Olsen’s.

An old hand at chasing down leads, Idle contacted Olsen and then navigated the attorney’s gauntlet of interviews. Although she knew the job would mark a dramatic departure from her previous work, when she learned the job was hers, she was thrilled.

“I never imagined I would be able to do something like this in Chattanooga,” Idle gushes.

When Idle moved to the Scenic City earlier this year to be near Heisey, she planned to pursue work in corporate communications. Although she had focused on broadcast news since she was 6, she was primed for a change.

“[Multimedia journalists] are paid minimally to do everything – schedule interviews, write, edit, post to the web and do social media – under tight deadlines,” she explains. “And in West Palm, where the news happens fast, I was turning two to three stories a day.

“I was beginning to wonder if that was what my life was going to be,” she says. “Was I going to put everything else on the backburner and just grind day in and day out?”

As Idle shifts her professional focus, she looks back on years of gratifying memories and accomplishments in broadcast news.

Her recollections go all the way back to summer camps at the University of Maryland and University of Florida, where she earned her credentials as a news nerd. “My friends would be out having fun and I’d be at journalism camp,” she laughs.

From there, Idle went to Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. There, she spent six months reporting in the U.S. capital and was credentialed through the U.S. House & Senate Radio & TV Gallery.

During Idle’s time in Washington, D.C., she interviewed Sen. John McCain about the Gang of 8 immigration reform and was given the opportunity to sit inside the House Chamber during the State of the Union Address.

Speaking with high ranking-political officials about immigration issues only stoked her interest in broadcast news. “The debate was heated because of Arizona’s border with Mexico,” she recalls. “It was exhilarating.”

Idle’s first job out of school was with the ABC affiliate in Amarillo, Texas. After experiencing the kinetic pace of the nation’s capital, the small market gave her a strong jolt of culture shock. “I saw my first tumbleweed there,” she laughs, shaking her head.

Although reporting on house fires didn’t give Idle the same rush she had felt in Washington, D.C., she was glad for the opportunity and fulfilled her contract before landing a gig with the FOX affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida.

Idle came into her own as a broadcast journalist while working in Fort Myers and later in the state’s West Palm market.

Her highlight reel from this chapter of her career includes an interview with Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, two days before the 2016 election. Idle also grilled then Florida Gov. Rick Scott about nursing home regulations after Hurricane Irma in 2017 and current Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about environmental issues along the Treasure Coast.

While working in South Florida, Idle also covered several national stories, including presidential rallies and the 2019 election recount in Palm Beach County. A few months later, she received an award from The Associated Press for her coverage of the recount.

Even though Idle is no longer working in broadcast news, she still reads the news every day. This not only keeps her abreast of national and international updates that are of importance to Olsen Law Firm but also satisfies the part of her that yearns to know the how and the why.

“I can’t watch the news and not ask questions, so I’m always reading up on topics I saw on the local broadcasts,” she says. “There’s always more to the story.”

There will someday be more to Idle’s story, although she doesn’t know what the next few chapters of her career hold. She doesn’t even rule out a return to the news. But for now, she’s pleased with where she is.

“I’m lucky and honored to be working here.”