This week, I enjoyed breakfast as Patch local editors swapped tales and checked iPhone messages at That Bar in Danville for Happy Hour.
This is my kind of bar food. My hubby and I shared bacon, egg and jack cheddar cheese sliders. I wanted the eggs over easy so that the yolk would spill over the salty meat and bread. I used Choula to add a little kick to my hash browns. I used a couple of vodka 7-ups to wash away frayed nerves and endless worries.
I suppose I should have known that I was trading TV newsroom drama and ego for a different set of expectations and stress inside my virtual newsroom. Whether it’s broadcast news or hyperlocal journalism, I won’t settle for shoddy work.
On the graveyard shift in Sacramento and Topeka, I found myself skipping lunch, slamming out scripts, logging interviews, making beat checks and listening to emotional viewers who thought a TV news station had other powers.
Some told me they wanted to see our station take down allegedly corrupt officials and throw them behind bars. Others wanted our station to join three people who were forming a human chain to stop a bank from locking them out of house they couldn’t afford to keep. One lady wanted to get the word out about President-elect Obama and his “real” birthplace. (I’ll give you hint, she says it wasn’t Hawaii). Another man wanted me to change our script about crime rates rising and add his so-called fact that a growing minority population was responsible for the crime rate in his neighborhood. He told me to use some common sense in our reporting.
I log all of these calls. I take their name and contact info, if they’re willing to share that information with me, and I email all the information to my assignment desk.
Some of the calls break my heart. I’ve chatted with a grandmother who couldn’t stop crying over losing her grandson to a biological father. She told me he wasn’t fit to be a father. I asked her if she contacted a lawyer. She said, “No. I called you. You need to do something about it.”
I typed up her information, her name and contact info and sent it off to my assignment desk.
Another grandmother said she needed to speak to the reporter who covered the shooting death of her grandson. She wanted to make sure we had all the information for funeral donations. As she struggled to go over bank information between her sobs, she also shared nuggets about the teen’s high school football career and his dreams about college.
I gritted my teeth, biting back tears of my own. There’s no crying in the newsroom.
I felt terrible that our news market was covering the shooting investigation and the upcoming funeral instead of writing about this teen’s next successful touchdown and his graduation day.
I typed up the donation information, took her contact info, forwarded her call to the reporter’s voice mail and emailed all the information to our assignment desk. My executive producer asked why I took so long on that call. I told her the grandmother lost her grandson in the latest shooting incident.
My EP nodded. I continued slamming out scripts.
My parents once said I was too sensitive.
Sometimes, I wonder if I am too sensitive for the news business.