It’s okay to cry

It’s the third night in a row I’ve come home to process my day with a glass of wine (oh, cursed calories that soothe me so) and my trusty laptop.

So here we go.

 

Over the past two days, I’ve come close to crying for two strangers. I didn’t. For the record, I would call myself an emotional person; I don’t think “stoic” has ever been used to describe me. Even so, I’ve learned to turn off the tears in public situations. At least, most of the time.

But tonight, a victim who was seriously wounded in Saturday’s crash braved the public and his own pain of losing the girl he loved… to honor her and his friend.

matt hardy

I fought to keep my hands still and my breathing to a minimum as I held the camera. Once photographers were finally called to head back to the media box, my lungs filled with air and my eyes with tears.

[I am thankful to my friend Erin, who held me to her side as I wept… and then brought myself back to a calm state.]

And the rest of the night, I was tear-free.

Sometimes it must be bottled up, other times it will sneak out before you can stop and grab it back. As a journalist, am I able to just let myself go? For whatever reason, extreme emotion seems taboo.

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This weekend I had the privilege of listening to Ira Glass in person.* Glass is the host of NPR’s “This American Life,” a phenomenal show I recommend (obviously, by the adjective). In his talk in Troy, he expressed gratefulness that he was a journalist on the radio because it allowed him to show and articulate certain emotions in a way that broadcast journalists couldn’t. He gave the specific instances of humor and surprise.

 

I envy that.

I love to laugh, and if you listen to many interviews I conduct, funny comments will elicit a hearty “ha, ha!” from me. I just can’t help myself! Do those guffaws get included in the final story for air? Rarely.

Tears too, are out of the question. Broadcast journalists are expected to empathize, but not exaggerate. To be caring, yet composed. To sympathize in moderation. Restraint is the rule.

Today, I broke it.** And I don’t care.

 

Tell me again, why can’t we share?

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*More posts to come on his words.

**So did my colleague.

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Good Tweetings

I start with a quick apology. I planned for this next post to be about the inundation of difficult news stories when working at a 24-hour statewide cable network (wow, I made that sound really boring), but a little blue bird network got in the way ^_^

For good reason.

I actually own a shirt that resembles the Twitter bird. Here's to you, Larry!

I actually own a shirt with a strong resemblance to the Twitter bird. Here’s to you, Larry!

I thank Twitter tonight for lifting so many hearts that were downcast by many incidents of tragedy. In addition to the fatal Northway crash, a Mechanicville Marine was killed in combat in Afghanistan this weekend. I actually learned of his death last night, after spending a whole day fighting to address the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers in a respectful and honorable fashion. I couldn’t write about it though because it wasn’t confirmed. Anyway, all this… left me with little to keep going.

 

Then: tonight happened.

You’ve likely seen updates as to what has happened, but here’s the brief story:

Matt Hardy is a football player at Shenendehowa High School. His girlfriend Deanna Rivers was one of the two killed in a crash involving alcohol Saturday night. Hardy is recovering from his serious injuries. As a way of giving him joy, his friends began a campaign to get #TebowCallMatt to trend nationwide on Twitter… and then, of course, have Mr. Tim Tebow call the teenager.

With thousands in support, the topic was seen on the far left menu column within minutes.

Soon after, the New York Jets’ QB dialed.

#TebowCalledMatt

#TebowCalledMatt

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There are so many lessons to be taken away from this story.

1. Tim Tebow is a good man.

2. The friends and family and anyone who tweeted #TebowCallMatt (and the sequential #MissyCallBailey and #DaleyCallBailey) are wonderful people.

3. That means there are a TON of amazing people out there.

4. Twitter is powerful 🙂

5. There is always hope.

6. _______________________ (your takeaway)

And the list goes on.

We fight very hard to understand the incomprehensible in life, and sometimes it is futile. In those times, may we keep seeking messages and displays of hope.

 

Just like these tweeters did.

#ThankYou518

The news you don’t want to report, but have to

This post may seem extremely obvious. As plain-as-the nose-on-your-face obvious. Nonetheless, writing this out is helping me heal from today.

News is a double-edged sword as a career. There are its shining moments, where you are able to shed light on criminal activity and corruption or highlight the beauty of a human soul. Then there are the destructive stories, where you challenge humanity, fairness and many other life questions that don’t always have pleasant answers.

Today was one of the latter.

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Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers

Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers

If you haven’t heard already, two seniors at Shenendehowa High School were killed in a fatal car crash last night (Saturday). Their two significant others, also young students at local schools, were seriously injured. The man who police believe to be responsible is expected to face charges: two counts of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. More of YNN’s coverage here.

In any crucial news story like this, I’m constantly prowling for information, discussing what other resources we can tap into, poring over Facebook profiles and Twitter to find tidbits about the subject of a story.

If it sounds somewhat stalker-like, well, it is.

If it sounds somewhat stalker-like, well… it is.

A news station’s goal is to be able to provide as many intimate details of a person so that ALL can understand who he/she is.

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These efforts aren’t automatic and mechanical, though. At least, they weren’t today. Personally, they were punctuated by moments of heartache, seconds of quick prayer, a hard swallow to stop tears from forming in my eyes.

As jaded as I have become – and will continue to be – I can’t forget pain. Who is really able to?

It’s a battle to be able to put emotions aside for a few minutes to dig into the facts of a story, and then return to the emotional numbness for just a few snatches of time before you get back to your work. It is our duty to get the facts out there.

All this… is part of my job.

 

… quite the challenge, the journalism profession.

 

Also, all this was further perpetuated by MORE BAD NEWS. That’s to come in the next post.