You never know what your day will be like as a reporter. Of course you have the day planned and deadlines never change. But, walking into the newsroom in the morning you brace yourself for anything the world may throw your way.
Hate mail from a furious reader, a child who has died from asphyxia, a 44-year-old man who has sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl, even a UFO sighting. No comment on the last one. All of that happened to me in one week.
It can be tough – challenging me mentally and testing my patience – but I’m growing.
Last Friday, I was sitting at my desk with mascara on from the day before. I think I was wearing clean jeans, surprisingly. Two stories ahead of me – one breaking news and the other I’d been working on for a bit.
I was tired with a headache, but I had a job to do. A job that is more than just a job. A job that I have a passion for, that I have a calling for. My day isn’t complete until I finish the job of informing the public.
People hate the news media – don’t they? Well that’s fine. I think it’s the people who don’t really know what we do who hate us the most.
A little over a week ago I was able to get the word out about a student-led fundraiser for their fellow classmate who has cerebral palsy and in need of $50,000 for stem cell therapy.
I spoke on the phone with a high school senior who was absolutely beautiful on the inside, leading the fundraiser to help her classmate. Crying on the phone because she felt so strongly about serving her friend. And humbly giving credit to all who were involved.
I was in tears too. I can’t speak for all of us, but most journalists have souls and emotions. I promise.
Later in the week, I found myself in tears again speaking with an elementary school principal. One of their fourth grade babies had died the night before. In shock, the thought of having to speak with the parents next haunted me. Feeling like I should give them time, but wanting them to let others know how their child should be remembered. And to clear any rumors around the mill.
This week through a FOIA request, I received the incident and supplemental police reports – 11 pages of very specific details from the scene. Reading it over and over for the article, to be sure it was accurate. It was emotionally draining.
Reporters, editors, freelancers, photographers. We all have a job to do. We’re often taken for granted. We write articles that may only be read by three people. And we get treated pretty unfairly.
But without us, you’ll be left wondering what happened.
Follow reporter Hannah Louise Strong on Twitter and Instagram @HannahLStrong