Toya didn’t flee from country to country. Her first language is English. Yet what this Pittsburgh woman made of her life is inspiring, incredible and illuminating. Even without meeting this woman face-to-face, her story drew me in. Take a look.
You may accuse me of being quiet.
(This is partially true. I feel that my tendency to be an extreme extrovert has weakened with time).
The words are still spilling out, though! The reason for my silence on my blog and other social media outlets is all the planning and tweeting and writing I’m doing for Kiva Zip. If you don’t know what that is, I will cast no judgment if you go now and make a $5 loan! 😉
That being said, I still wistfully think about my former reporter life. Having conversations via Twitter is not quite the same as face-to-face.
Then the opportunity came in the form of a meeting with a Cambodian woman who was forced to take refuge in Vietnam and then immigrated to the U.S. She and her husband want to borrow $5,000 to help their small sandwich shop succeed.
For a little while, philanthropy and reporting are going hand-in-hand. Meet Ki.
Whether you know what that is or not (I didn’t), the viewpoints of the contributors are insightful, varied and telling. Please read.
The point of this post is a self-realization: I am not the only journalist to be leaving my field. In fact, the article cites another USA Today reporter who’s left his post for a digital communications firm. Scott Martin’s primary reason is also concern for the direction of journalism. In his case, specifically technology news. Martin writes, “…Social media giants are becoming the new distribution powerhouses and gatekeepers of news as well as the place to put advertising dollars to work,” and as a result, he believes news is indirectly becoming corporate advertising.
My thoughts on journalism’s future are similar, though Martin addresses the introduction of advertising at a level deeper than my thinking.
1. Despite my interest in local news, its audience is diminishing.
2. The demand for viewers leads to efforts to engage the public.
3. Oftentimes these efforts focus on social media.
That timeline seems innocuous. New attitudes, approaches and mindsets are necessary to keep up with society’s changes.
Here’s the problem. With fewer people tuning into their local stations, those newsrooms are making decisions that tend to lean toward the more scandalous, the ones that will grab your attention. They’re also using social media in a way that gets people to tune in. Oftentimes it’s a simple copy/paste and putting the audience’s thoughts on the air.
Is this the right platform for random comments? Is this news? As stations become more desperate for viewers and engagement, I feel there will only be more changes that will not reflect the heart of journalism.
I will say that the current station I’m at does not compromise on many of these things, but I’m looking ahead.
It’s an unusual state-of-mind for me to be in. I generally plan in the short-term. But again, after much prayer, reflection and conversation, I’ve been able to take this leap of faith, leaving a job I love, to find out what else is in store. Stay tuned.
*I had no idea what a “news scrum” was either. Fast Company describes it as a place where “senior reporters add crucial context and information to a mainstream technology story.”
I took this photo at the end of January. Trees – in case you didn’t know – don’t grow sideways. Yet this one ended up parallel to the earth that gave it life, going against the direction of all the other trees.
I took this photo thinking of me.
This was a day spent in prayer and reflection, in praise and in apprehension. It’s when I decided I was going to run counter to what was expected of me and leave the field of journalism for now.
So there’s the announcement. After years of reporting, anchoring, producing and informing, I’ve decided it’s time to step away to see the people I love, explore other paths I may be passionate about and challenge myself in ways I haven’t in the past.
There are multiple reasons for this. Among them, the fact that I’ve said no to many opportunities, events and moments in an effort to say yes to a career. I’m also sensing a growing concern about the direction that local broadcast news is headed. If you’d like to chat more, feel free to ask.
Back to reality though. This means in June, I’ll be leaving Albany. For a few months, I will be roaming my home countries and a few others while searching for my next landing place.
For those of you who have been a part of this journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been by my side at career fairs, stayed up with me until midnight or woken up at 3 a.m. with me, juggled my strange weekends, visited me in cities you never thought you’d be in.
Most importantly, you’ve believed in me, especially in moments when I lacked faith in myself. Thanks to you, I’ve learned, grown, and become so much closer to the journalist I wanted to be.
Just as that wayward tree is being held up by the other upstanding ones, you carry me.
Your name is on my byline.
There are many perks to this business. Every day is different. You get to meet new people who tell you stories you couldn’t have even dreamt up. Once in awhile, people tell you they recognize you and/or they tell you that you’re doing a wonderful job (this actually doesn’t happen as often as you’d think).
However, one of the downsides… is the frequency of these words:
In life, we all have our shares of farewells. For some reason, professional good-byes seem to cut more deeply in the news biz than in other ones.
Reasons why they happen so frequently:
– Contracts end every few years
– Poor ratings mean less revenue, which could mean cut positions
– It’s a grueling line of work, and people leave the field
– And IF you believe the saying, TV news is a dying business
Now factors as to why these departures are felt so strongly:
– The stress often creates stronger bonds
– New gigs usually are far away. At least 2 hours, because it’s in a different DMA from you
– The unusual work hours mean you are the only people who have the most random days off
I write this post because in just the past month, a few dear friends have moved on to wonderful new jobs, but those jobs have taken them further away from me.
Terrence Lee is now the morning MMJ in Cleveland, Ohio, after being the primetime anchor for WMDT in Salisbury, Md. for years.
Elaina Athans hit the ground running as a new reporter in Raleigh, N.C. after spearheading the Hudson Valley newsroom for YNN.
Casey McNulty just landed an incredible role as a producer in Boston. The offer came just over two weeks ago, and she leaves tomorrow.
While I have so much joy for these friends/former colleagues, it is hard to know that our friendships will have to remain long-distance. At the same time, I can’t bemoan their success and their future endeavors.
Guess that means I’ll have to make my way to the Buckeye State or plan a night out at the Raleigh Times. I’ve already scoped out some places in Boston, Casey!
Congratulations! I am so proud of you all.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
“If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.” – Matthew 18:12-13
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.
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.
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?
*More posts to come on his words.
**So did my colleague.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You know who they are. You may even be one. They’re the person sitting at the table next to you, blinding you with their flash (if they’re fairly new at this) or exclamining, “Don’t take a bite yet! I need a picture!”
I have adamantly refused to be a phood photographer (food fotographer?) despite the many restaurants I’ve patronized. For me, the memory of a meal is powerful enough that I don’t need to hold onto the image. Nor do I ever go back and look at pictures of plates. Food porn? Nope, not aroused.
This week, I broke my self-promise.
In two days, I had two of the best meals I’ve had in the Capital Region. Each made up of multiple courses. Each with carefully chosen wine pairings (or beer, if your tummy wanted hops). Each wowing me with the rich flavors and the delicate notes.
(Here’s where some of you might get a little too excited, in my humble opinion):
Yes. I took photos. Gahh!
The first meal was a collaboration between Creo and All Over Albany. We heard from local farms in my inaugural farm-to-table dinner. I could go on and on about the food, but just check out the menu here.
Then I attended my first ever dinner party at a new friend’s new home. The Culinary Institute of America graduate took my breath away with her elegance, thoughtfulness and creativity in this event. Truly an event.
I couldn’t help but be unfaithful to myself during these meals. Somehow – before the first course was even served – my camera was in one hand, my iPhone in the other.
But I wasn’t snapping shots because I had never eaten food like this before.
The plates were unique. The bites, blissful. The gastronomic value, sky-high. However, here’s why I adored these two meals so dearly.
It’s the people who made these plates worth saving. The love and passion in each dish, the careful planning of all the courses, the fascinating conversation over the cuisine: these are the snapshots of the night that I don’t want to lose.
Now it’s time to put away my camera.
At least, until the next dinner party.
… that pack a big punch.
I’m going to stray away from my random newsgathering-related rambles and tackle one of the most written-about subjects of all time.
To be honest, I’m not planning on questioning its significance or how one recovers from heartbreak or any of its deeper profound moments. I just wanted to write an entry as an ode to those three words that can make or break our lives.
Today I learned that a friend heard those words from a man she cares about this past weekend, and for the first time, no less! I yelped in excitement, I giggled, and even ran over to give her a hug. She was, in her words, “on Cloud 9.”
I’ve gone through my share of pain due to love, but when I saw someone who stepped into that place of being deeply and openly cherished for the first time, my heart leapt in mutual joy.
To know love, to live love, and to give it is one of the greatest parts of our lives on earth. Call me a sap, but even if I’m not the one all aflutter, I can’t help but celebrate its vibrancy in those around me. Love is an action. Love is a decision. Love is purposeful. The list goes on.
To wrap up:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9
and to those of you who know me well:
I love you.