Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Days Ago...

The tears stinging the back of my eyes felt too familiar. And so did the urge to repress any expression of emotion.

I exhaled silently, blinked, and focused back on the computer screen in front of me. I have a job to do. I have to write. And I'm on deadline, so I can't get up and leave to call my dad like I did a year and a half ago.

Maybe it's because I'm still a kid. Everyone else in the newsroom seemed so unaffected. Me? I don't have that wall yet. I don't think I ever will. So watching other kids not much younger than me on television, crying, upset, hugging each other and searching desperately for answers hits me. Hard. And it makes it tough to focus.

I got the same feeling in my gut watching people who looked like me wading through waist-high water, clinging to their only remaining possessions and asking if someone, anyone, knew where there loved ones were, praying that their lives hadn't floated away.

That time I wasn't on deadline. And so I left. Left the newsroom, left the buzz of covering a national tragedy, left the need to be "objective" and "clear-thinking." I left, called my dad, and let the tears out.

This isn't for me, I told him. I can't do this. Yeah, there's an allure for working in a national news operation, but damn. At what price? Every national tragedy becomes your life for eight hours or more for each day that it's in the news.

I told him it feels like too much to watch other people suffer, and to know that the only thing you can do about it... is tell other people that they're suffering.

I don't know if I'm made for this, I said.

But he told me I am. And everyone knows I trust my daddy's word.

So I as I sat there again, fighting maintain my composure, I reminded myself of what he said to me a year and half earlier:

"Yes, you're a journalist. But you're a human first.

"And that's okay."

Many news organizations offer help for employees coping with tragedy, whether they're on a personal or national scale. Contact your human resources department to find out how what kind of assistance is available to you.



Posted by Veronica Marché at 5:18 PM | link

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I just had that same feeling when watching the news. Am I cut out for this? How was I going to be able to cover this tragedy when all I can think about is: That could've been me. My school. Us.

It's hard but your dad is right. We are human and never losing sight of that is key.

Posted by Blogger That Journalist @ 8:28 PM, April 19, 2007 #

I know I'm all late (just catching up on my YBJ emails, sorry) but I felt this way too during my internship. I had to log amateur video of a bunch of people trying to save 4 people, who eventually drowned, in what was only supposed to be an artistic water display. It was hard to watch, because I watched a man take his last breath (I'm welling up now thinking about that image that will always be in my brain).

When I told my dad about it (he's in the business too) he said, "Don't you remember going out on a story with me about those people that burned up in a flipped over church van?" Uhhhhh no. If I did, I blocked it out, and probably for good reason. But it's good to still be human. Many people don't see journalists as human, until, was it Peter Jennings that cried on a late night talk show after 9/11?

It's what makes us good journalists. But it is terrible, and frightening, and draining on our souls to cover stuff like this.

Posted by Blogger journiemajor @ 2:58 AM, May 10, 2007 #
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