So who am I ? I’m a local newspaper reporter. I’ve written for three different newspapers in my 14 year career. All of them in towns with populations of less than 60,000.
I like writing in smaller towns. You get to know people and the community. The stories you write become more personal.
That can be both a blessing and a curse. People know your name and your face. They call you out in the grocery store or interrupt your night out with your spouse to give you a hot tip. I’ve gotten used to it. So has my husband.
Sometimes, I get to write about the great triumphs in people’s lives. Like the Austrian man who was able to reconnect with a Good Samaritan who helped him out more than 20 years ago.
It can also make it hard to write the story about the motorcycle riding pastor who is killed in an accident or the really helpful city employee who gets caught embezzling funds. It’s part just one of the more unglamorous parts of the job.
I became a journalist because I like to write and I like to learn. My dad suggested the career, although now I think he would rather have me be a teacher. It’s got slightly better pay and better job security.
I also like having the ability to peek behind the scenes at how things work, how laws are made and celebrate the achievement of students of all ages. I like being in the know.
I’ve covered a number of different beats thoughtful my career: city council, county government, state government, crime, courts, health, education and business.
They’re all different. There’s different things I like and hate about each. Government board meetings that drag on until 10 p.m. being one item.
I like to think of my job as being a combination of a behind the scenes tour guide (ever wondered how much flour it takes to make a million ice cream cones a day?) and a stand in those who can’t attend the four hour council meeting or don’t have the time to ask the school board how it plans to improve test grades.
At the same time, I’ve got a duty to explain to the public how much that school bond will add to their property taxes and what the school district plans to do with the money. I have to follow up to make sure the money is being spent properly.
I’ve got to be fair to both the public and my sources. I can’t accuse someone of wrongdoing without proof, but I also have to investigate to make sure things are being run according to the law.
It’s a daily balancing act that can wear you down. Add to that the stress of low pay, long hours and the occasional nasty phone call and it’s not a wonder why so many reporters burn out, drop out or change careers.