It was the most cliche pretense for (what feels like) the biggest day of your life.
Sunday afternoon, and no news. I refreshed and refreshed the AP wire, waiting for anything to replace the 7 a.m. newscast. When I came in to run boards for a volleyball scrimmage on Saturday night, my less-than-interested coworker told me about, “some guy kidnapping his wife from her salon a few blocks away.” He’s a DJ guy, I’m a news girl. The big story wasn’t his niche.
Now that the latest was, “search is ongoing,” I was bitter that I’d missed the story. I scanned through my Facebook one more time before recording the evening news, likely with old stories, and saw a post from Western Nebraska, asking what was with all the state trooper sirens. In the comments, someone linked to a small town newspaper: the alleged kidnapper had reached the western Nebraska, where the victim had family. A SWAT team had gathered at a farm building. The search was on.
And so was the reporting. I had to refresh the wire twice before realizing the AP jut hadn’t gotten this yet. I posted to my own Facebook: any western Nebraska people, keep me posted in case I miss something. I knew not to update large, national stories overnight because of what could develop. But this was local. I decided I’d come in after hours if I had to update. But just to be safe, I called the news director, first.
In the midst of the exciting reporting/a big story/getting on good terms with a director who is vital to me despite having never met in person, my stomach flopped. I’d went from bitter to excited with this update. I’d forgotten that meanwhile, someone was in the most terrifying situation of her life.
Maybe it was the column I’d spent some of the free time reading, about the media’s seizure of a “good story” and what responsibility we have with that. The increasing negativity, from people who don’t mean harm, about “The Media.” We have “A Bias,” and we “Try to Create Hype,” or “Ignore the Real Story.” Those are things I try not to take to heart, and also try to defy. Tell the truth, tell the stories, get all sides.
Alas, it hit me that my “big break” to really go “above and beyond” as a weekend board op, had to have come in the form of danger, negativity or tragedy. Maybe that’s why a professor once explained a movie to us where the devil is always reincarnated as a reporter or a lawyer: we really benefit over negative events. Covering the big fires, a kidnapping, a tragedy - it’s good for the ego and better for the resume. At the same time, someone somewhere is suffering.
The only argument I have for that guilt feeling, is that telling the public is absolutely vital. The eastern Nebraska world was holding their breaths, hoping western Nebraska world would save the day, and during the first budget meeting of the year, just before 9 p.m., I found out they had.
Even now, I feel the “informing the public” excuse can be a cop-out, and I don’t know if that justifies all the gains we get from bad situations, or not. But if I’m at least doing that much, this work can’t be in vain… can it?