Baltimore native Evan Lambert, 26, may be a young reporter, but that hasn’t stopped him from covering stories such as the Trayvon Martin case and the execution of the D.C. shooter John Allen Muhammad.
In June, Lambert took a reporter position at WTVT FOX 13 in Tampa, Fla.
“I just needed a change after three years [at WKMG in Orlando, Fla.] and a new challenge,” said Lambert. “This opportunity kind of just fell in my lap.”
The work he did for WKMG made an impression on his co-workers and superiors.
“Evan is a compassionate individual who wears his heart on his sleeve, is aggressive in gathering information and takes his job seriously,” said Allison McGinley, one of Lambert’s former supervisors at WKMG.
Lambert said the first time he felt compelled to pursue journalism was after he watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfold.
“I knew, [after 9/11], I wanted to be there to witness events and inform other people,” said Lambert.
Lambert, who grew up in Owings Mills, recalled as a child his mother always had the local news on the television. Aside from being fascinated with the reporters, he already had experience talking to unfamiliar people from attending Camp Airy, an all-boys Jewish sleep-away camp.
“At sleep-away camp, you learn how to interact with people in close quarters,” said Lambert. “As a reporter, I’m always meeting new people and a lot of the time on their best or worst day.”
His ability to interact with people on their bad days not only helped him on the job, but was noticed by his co-workers.
“I consider him one of my best friends,” said Alex Holley, a former colleague from WMBF in Myrtle Beach, S. C. “Whenever we had a rough day we’d run into an edit bay, because they’re soundproofed, and we’d just vent to each other.”
Although Holley worked different shifts than Lambert, they became friends quickly because they shared the difficulties of being new reporters.
“His day ended as mine was starting, and he was always willing to stay late to hear me vent,” said Holley.
Lambert remains friends with Holley and those he met at Camp Airy, which he attended until he was 21. Although he said he’s not particularly religious, learning to interact with people would help Lambert later on in college and his career when he’d develop a tie to the Jewish community.
When Lambert began attending University of Maryland, College Park, he connected with Kol Sasson, a Jewish a cappella group. Although he never intended to join, he hit it off with the other members quickly and was accepted after auditioning.
“I was always performing in musicals and plays,” said Lambert. “In news, there is an element of performance.”
Between Camp Airy and Kol Sasson, Lambert had a perfect combination of experience and personality to keep pursuing his desire to be on air. In 2009, when he was working on the university’s newscast, John Allen Muhammad, who shot and killed several people in 2002, was scheduled to be executed. Lambert recalled the concern of people in Baltimore when Muhammad was loose.
“During the shootings, everyone was in a state of panic,” said Lambert. “I was afraid that someone was going to come [to Baltimore] and start shooting people.”
In Nov. 2009, Lambert traveled to Virginia, where Muhammad was being held. He recalled standing in a pressroom with other reporters, many from national publications. Only two members of the media were chosen to witness the execution firsthand, and the scene was described at a news conference after the fact. Lambert didn’t expect to be chosen, but he said he wouldn’t have wanted to see the execution even if he was offered the chance.
“It was one of the first major news events I covered,” said Lambert. “It solidified that I wanted to [pursue journalism.]”
More major stories, such as the Trayvon Martin case, would come when he landed his job in Orlando after two years reporting in South Carolina.
Lambert moved to Orlando shortly after Martin was killed. When the verdict for the case was given, his news station had “all hands on deck.” He ended up coming into work two-and-a-half hours early that night.
“We didn’t know how people would react to it; if there was going to be riots or any kind of violence,” said Lambert.
Although there was no violence where Lambert was located, the case, which garnered national attention, was a sensitive issue for the community, and local media had to tread lightly.
“It was a divisive story for our community and very difficult to report,” said McGinley. “We had to make sure we had all sides and cover it as a whole to help our viewers understand its impact on the community.”
Covering stories such as Trayvon Martin and the D.C. shooter may not always be easy, but Lambert has remained driven to make an impact.
“He was always good at being positive. He’d say, ‘What we say in here, stays in here. We just have to stay positive and keep going,’” said Holley referring to their time venting to each other in the edit bay.
Lambert said he is grateful for the opportunities he’s had, especially the ones in Tampa.
“Television journalism is difficult, and there are not a lot of people who can graduate and just go on-air,” said Lambert. “What I’ve found at my new job, they care more about good journalism rather than just the biggest crime.”
“I’m really excited for him and wish him all the best,” said McGinley. “I think he’s turning into a solid reporter who will do great things in the future.”