When Sarah Swistak was a child, she would scribble on a yellow notepad, making line after line of curlicues. Her parents asked what she was doing, and she told them she was writing stories. Today Swistak, as evening news anchor at Fox 47 (WSYM-TV) in Lansing, tells stories about the city and its residents as a broadcast journalist. It is a career she takes seriously.
“What I love most about anchoring is the platform it gives me to really make an impact in my community,” Swistak said, bouncing her 7-month-old daughter, Cecily, on her knee. “But more than that I love being able to make a difference in my small corner of the world, and I feel my position as a broadcast journalist enables me to do that.”
Making a difference, for instance, by reporting on cancer-related issues. Swistak lost her brother, Steve, to esophageal cancer in 2015, and she has transformed that loss into a quest to spread the word about cancer and its treatment.
Her series of reports on cancer carried the hashstag #SWISSTRONG, which is the hashtag her brother used during his fight against cancer, a fight he lost four years ago. “Being able to tell other people about a new scan or stories of hope and survival is my way of keeping his name in people’s mind and in their hearts,” Swistak said.
Swistak originally wanted to write for a newspaper, but after taking her first print journalism class at Michigan State University, she realized it was not her calling. Her father suggested broadcast journalism might be perfect for her, and it’s been her career
Another cause that hits close to home for the West Bloomfield native is bullying. Swistak said she was bullied as a child and works hard to help kids today who are taunted and tormented by bullies.
“People would never guess it because I am smiling all the time and have that sort of upbeat personality, but I was terribly bullied as a child,” Swistak said. “I remember eating my lunch alone in a bathroom stall because I wanted to be away from the people who were teasing me.”
She told a story about a boy named Runo who was being taunted at school because he wore purple gloves. Swistak reached out on her Facebook page and asked everyone to wear something purple and post a photo to tell Runo how awesome purple was.