Sarafina James joined WPXI as a freelance-reporter in August of 2020 and was promoted to a full-time reporter position, in March of 2021.
Prior to WPXI, Sarafina worked as a reporter in several markets, including Tampa, Florida and Little Rock, Arkansa. She began her career as a Reporter and Weekend Anchor at WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio and served as the morning anchor in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
Over the years, Sarafina covered several stories that garnered national attention. Those events involved the state of Arkansa’s plan to carry out eight inmate executions in a 10-day period, a nightclub mass shooting in which 25 people were shot and coverage of a Florida nurse, who was unfortunately paralyzed due to COVID-19 complications: her coverage led to his medical evacuation to Boston, for life saving treatment.
Sarafina, is particularly proud of a special feature she wrote, regarding a tragic historical event that occurred in Arkansas in 1959. The almost unknown horrible details, involved 21 institutionalized African American juvenile boys, who mysteriously died in a fire. The story was submitted by her station, KATV, as one of their yearly Emmy contenders. Her coverage also lead to the boys finally being memorialized as well a standing grave-marker placed at the site of the fire.
But, she is most proud of a feature story, which highlighted the effects of firefighter‘s exposure to hazardous materials and the mounting cancer diagnosis within the fire bureau.
Sarafina also documented her involvement, training and her own graduation from the Little Rock Citizens Fire Academy. That story allowed the community to experience a more detailed view of the commentment and rigors of cadet training.
Sarafina is from Pittsburgh, Pa., where she graduated from Point Park University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications.
Sarafina caught the journalism bug only after she was an avid violinist for 12 years. She began playing the violin at the late age of 8 and attended music preparatory school at Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University where she studied Music Theory and Classical Violin. Just before going off to college, she also studied with Jazz Great Kenny Fisher and the Pittsburgh Jazz Lions.
August 2020 was a big month for Sarafina. In the midst of the pandemic, she and her now husband Justin, decided not to postpone their previously planned wedding. Instead, she moved from Tampa, got married and started working for WPXI all within a three week span. In spite of all the dizzying changes, she’s thrilled to be back in Pittsburgh with her friends and family.
There is a lot of time, planning and money that goes into a wedding. So, imagine one groom’s disappointment when he had to cancel his special day after being told he had COVID, only to later learn the results were wrong.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Mayor Ed Gainey kept his word, vowing to walk the south side to see what’s happening on East Carson Street following a string of violent crime, including fights and several shootings.