#whatinnaeworld?! San Francisco 2nd Edition

I don’t often wake up at 5 a.m.

I don’t often attend concerts in front of a spectacular view at 5 a.m. either.

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Thanks, San Francisco, for being a city that celebrates the [temporary] end of a beautiful piece of work.

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Sunshine online

Today I consumed more dairy than my stomach will be able to handle come tomorrow. Until then, here I am.

 

That’s right. Hello!

Yes, I’m just as surprised as you are that the itch to write has returned. I’ve always loved writing, but as it turns out, my insecurity prevents me from doing it. That and a busy social calendar that I inevitably schedule and regret.

 

 

Last year an event gave me a first-ever experience in my journalistic career: A crash that killed two young teenagers and deeply wounded two others. A crash that ended first love. A crash that sent a father to jail. A crash that began wrapping up the grieving in a bandage of community solidarity. A crash in which Dennis Drue was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison on Thursday.

You may not have known I was covering it because I didn’t appear on television it. Twitter gave me away.

There are so many thoughts that could be scrawled on this screen right now. They range from:

1. The moments that made me bite my lip to keep the tears at bay. I was unsuccessful.

2. “Closure”

3. The justice system

 

Maybe I’ll get to those. Maybe I won’t. This post is for hope.

4. Social media positivity

 

Thanks to my news director, I know I tweeted at least 70 times throughout the day. My handy smartphone notified me of every time someone RTed or favorited my 140 characters.

My tweet with the widest online ‘footprint’?

12.7.2013 1:55 pm

12.5.2013 1:55 p.m.

 

There is so much pain in this story. I am unable to fathom what it is like to lose a child, sister, brother, significant other or friend. There are many still grieving and trying to pick up the pieces of the lives that once were. Others are leaving them behind, understanding the future will have to look nothing like what they hoped for.

Yet enough people found these words describing a beautiful girl and her beautiful heart worth noting.

Is there anger behind those words? Possibly.

Is there full healing in the heart that loved her? Not yet.

But in <140 characters a young man articulated what was so worth loving about Deanna Rivers, and tweeters knew they had to respond. Whether they knew her or not, this is what’s worth remembering.

 

Rays of sun will break through the darkness.

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.

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.