I made it.
No fanfare, no jubilation in the streets, but that’s okay. The fact that as of today I have officially been employed in journalism for a year is satisfying enough for me.
It only seems appropriate that I reflect on this past year a little bit. My blog’s current tagline is “A journalism exploration,” and, oh, what a trip it has been so far.
Perhaps the best way to sum up this year would be to quote one of the copy editors at the newspaper: “We had a nice, peaceful community until you came along.” Yes, it’s true, death and destruction have seemed to follow me ever since I arrived at my job on Aug. 8, 2013.
When I had been on the job as the police beat reporter for about two and a half weeks, there was a murder at one of the local Domino’s stores. Two weeks later, there was another murder in the same neighborhood. (For those of you who may be reading this outside Bowling Green, Ky., home of 60,600 people–according to the U.S. Census Bureau–we don’t get many killings here.) Although crime is never expected, we just developed a running joke in the newsroom that all chaos was my fault. Monica: The Harbinger of Mayhem.
Upon my move to the business beat six months after starting at the Daily News, my coworkers predicted a tank in the local economy. That didn’t happen, but a week to the day after I visited the National Corvette Museum to talk about the installation of some LED lights, a sinkhole opened up in the very place I had stood.
Coincidence? Maybe, but I like to pretend I’m creating job security for myself and other journalists.
Kidding aside, though, this first year out of college has taught me a lot. My education was great, but there were some things only real experience could teach me. Such as:
- citing another newspaper as a source in a story is not acceptable.
- just because a press release spells someone’s name one way doesn’t mean that’s the right way.
- sometimes the mouthiest people at a controversial meeting are the ones least likely to talk to the media.
- law enforcement officials can be easier to talk to than business people.
- a dead body in person is not the same as a dead body on TV.
- when you’re assigned a story that makes no sense and seems irrelevant, make it make sense and force it to be relevant somehow.
- you probably won’t giddily skip into work every single day.
I won’t bore you with the entire list of lessons learned this year, but those are the highlights.
As I begin what I hope is another year in my job (I think we all know employment, especially in journalism, is never 100 percent), I anticipate to continue learning and be taken by surprise at any time. Just today I went to a man’s house to speak with him about his former place of employment. We ended up talking about his late wife and crying. Together.
You just never know when the unexpected will happen. They wouldn’t call it “unexpected”otherwise. But that’s what makes this journalism exploration worth continuing.
*By the way, if you’d like to see where it all began (my first article), check it out here.