I am the first to admit I enjoy covering news as much as the next news reporter. When news breaks, I like to be in the middle of it all. Interviewing people for the story, gathering information and then seeing it in print are some of the greatest experiences any reporter can get. You have written an article that many will read.
So making endless phone calls to anyone who can give you information is what a reporter must do.
When the shootings here in Bay City happened two weeks ago, I jumped right into action: getting on the scene, contacting as many people as possible to gather information, taking photos (from behind the yellow tape), and writing the article for the daily paper.
I was not, however, ready to deal with the grief and stories of those who experienced the shooting firsthand. The day after the shooting, I walked the streets, hoping someone would speak to me. I knocked on a few doors, but got no response.
Later that day, I would get to speak to a few girls who shared what they saw that day after they walked home from school. It was heart-breaking, but I had to focus and continue the coverage.
I am the first to admit I am not very good at expressing myself when something is bothering me.
To clear my mind, I usually dive into work by working long hours. Or, I'll decompress on my own time by watching endless hours of television and eating my favorite Chinese meal or visiting family in Austin or Fort Worth. Of course, drinking coffee and unwinding during a long drive always helps.
For me, there is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a nice quiet place, reading newspapers, sipping hot coffee and being left alone to think.
The same night I spoke to the girls, I stood by the side of the road and watched as the endless rows of cars slowly drove by taking a look at the house. Was it because they could not believe what had happened and they had to look for themselves? Were they trying to understand the tragedy?
Many stopped by and dropped off candles, teddy bears, balloons and bibles at the site. It was a beautiful memorial for the Gonzales family.
As I stood there on that cold night, it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing right where the shootings had occurred, and I began to panic. I wanted nothing more than to walk away from it all, but I had spent so much time on this story and the daily paper was depending on me.
Listening to the 911 phone calls made that day was the tipping point. No one ever wants to hear children suffering or know that children are in pain. The phone calls broke my heart, but I had to stay strong.
My heart broke for the family, the children who made the phone calls and it was then when I began to cry.
As a reporter, you have to stay strong. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to feel numb and put the feelings that you have tucked inside and focus on the job at hand.
This reporter sure hopes never to cover something so tragic as what happened two weeks ago. I salute all law enforcement and emergency management services for all the hard work and dedication they put to their jobs. They see so much on a daily basis, they are the most courageous people out there.
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