Jeff Stensland knew he wanted to be a reporter more than 20 years ago, watching live news coverage of a floating bridge as it sank. News crews lined the shore and had a front-row seat to the unfolding event. That moment--along with countless VHS tapes of Jeff hosting his own newscasts--helped pave the way to Spectrum News.
Jeff grew up just outside Seattle in Redmond, Washington. However, he grew wings after high school and has lived in four different time zones since. He's always had his eyes set on the Lone Star State, so you can imagine his excitement when Spectrum News called.
Jeff graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in 2005, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication. He also studied Spanish, mathematics and physics. While ASU, he worked on several award-winning journalism projects, including an assignment that took him to Monterrey, Mexico. There, Jeff focused on economic ties to the Phoenix area. He also wore several different hats on the school’s nationally ranked newscast, from news reporter to graphic artist. Jeff also studied the Spanish language extensively. He was fluent when he graduated college and hopes to get back to that point very soon in Central Texas.
In 2004, Jeff headed to Washington, D.C., to attend a semester focused on journalism at American University. There, he also interned at the Center for Investigative Reporting. It was at the height of the 2004 presidential election season, which brought about a deluge of political stories for Jeff to cover. He also investigated the performance of D.C. public schools, specifically how turnover at the top and unbalanced school funding was impacting students.
Before coming to Austin, Jeff spent three years in Southern Illinois, where he worked for two television stations. While at WPSD-TV, Jeff uncovered a surgical fire at a hospital that caused the death of the patient, yet the fire was hidden from local, state and federal investigators. They learned of the incident when Jeff filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
He built a reputation for holding officials accountable and digging deep. In 2009, Jeff moved to WSIL-TV. Already knowing the area well, Jeff continued to break stories and fight on behalf of viewers.
Jeff got his start in television news at KOAM-TV in Joplin, Missouri. Many of Jeff's closest friends still live in or near Joplin, which was hit by an EF-5 tornado on May 22, 2011. All survived, but lost everything they owned. A couple suffered injuries that required surgery. The storm also destroyed Jeff's former third-story apartment.
Jeff’s work has won him several awards. In 2011, the Illinois Broadcasters Association nominated Jeff as Best Reporter. He was a national finalist with the Broadcast Educator’s Association for a story he filed for ABC News highlighting a growing abuse of Adderall and Ritalin by college students. The same story won him honors from the Society of Professional Journalists. Jeff also received 1st Place for photography in a story, “Living with HIV.”
When he's not at work, you will find Jeff swimming at Barton Springs Pool, jogging through one of the area's many greenbelts or watching a documentary and soaking up Austin culture. As Jeff often says, Austin offers the culture of Seattle and climate of Phoenix, creating a great balance of his life's experiences.