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My Life as a Reporter...
October 23, 2010 - Jennifer Brookens
The other day, what I thought would be a slow day, I ended up following fire trucks and police cars. I walked right past the police barricade and all they said was, "Don't you have a jacket? You're going to freeze!" Then I was right up to the scene (a garage fire, which was mostly under control) and started getting the gossip. And two more potential story ideas for the future.
Then later that day, I found myself doing an interview sitting in a grain truck. I was asked if it was my first time being in a semi. Truth was, I couldn't remember. I've done some interviews in a lot of interesting places. Actually, I've done a lot of "out of the ordinary" things as a reporter. As I thought about it some more, it turns out to be quite a list...
Things I've experienced as a reporter:
*Writing the notes of what becomes the biggest story of the year on the back of a Subway napkin.
*Sitting in on a Sunday school class the day after a picture of me as an inmate at the local jail was on the front page of the paper. (My regular warm and friendly approach was not as well-received that day).
*Nearly got run over by a rock star's tour bus when it happened to be parked in the WalMart parking lot long enough to draw attention.
*Crossed police car blocks armed with only a notepad and camera and walked right up to the scene of a house fire/standoff.
*Been cursed out by the top cop for walking right into the middle of said police standoff. (For awhile, "Dammit, Brookens," was the standby greeting for me).
*Conversed with an angry old man about the race for governor for about four minutes longer than necessary, when all I wanted to do is use the bathroom.
*Stood in the freezing cold/rain/wind/sweltering heat waiting for someone who is "authorized" to answer basic questions about the explosion/drowning/fire/crash/flood/standoff/body found/power outage.
*Politely nod my head when someone begins confiding their conspiracy theories. Some of my favorites include Walt Disney still being alive and sending evil subliminal messages, the super-meth lab being run by top officials out of an abandoned farmhouse, and (my absolute LOL favorite) how I'm in on it all and getting paid off. (Yeah, ask my car loan and mortgage people about that...)
*Held a phone interview with Louie Anderson while sitting on the curb of the auto shop where my vehicle was just towed.
*Learned enough Minnesota statutes and laws that I could probably qualify for an Associate's Degree in law and/or criminal justice.
*Getting called "the liberal media" even though our editorial page always features Bill O'Reilly and Cal Thomas.
*Snapping pictures of traffic stops, car crashes, and baby ducklings trapped in a sewer grate. All within the same hour.
*Getting accused of sensationalism to sell papers. And in the same breath, the same person will ask me to cover their non-profit group's pancake breakfast, maybe come take a photo of it at 6 a.m.?
*Cursing out my voicemail, but somehow manage to make everything all right when I make the callback.
*Getting extremely panic-stricken when I don't have A) a pen and B) any scratch paper in my purse/vehicle/within my reach. (Thus, the Subway napkin incident).
*Been in a cop car for a few ridealongs, and a few chases (even if they were only for a few blocks). Realized police sometimes drive just as crazy as the rest of us. And that some suspicious things do have simple, logical explainations.
*Had people attempt to bribe me to not print their traffic ticket in the paper. With a $5 bill. (If they'd made it a $10, I might have considered).
*Was threatened to be sued by a legendary Classic Rock group (will not name them here for fear of another lawsuit threat. But I won't even listen to their songs on the radio anymore).
*Have given lessons in e-mail and photo attatchements over the phone. And lessons to my co-workers on designing their own ringtones. (Both ended up being Epic Fails.)
*Once wrote up the police blotter in haiku form. (Okay, it was for a blog entry, but different nonetheless).
*Took feature photos to pass time last winter while stuck in a snowbank in the middle of nowhere.
*Finally, there are the numerous incidents where I'm convinced I'm losing my mind by losing my notes/keys/cell phone/glasses/pens/time card/reimbursement sheet/etc. After dumping out my purse and several trips back and forth to the van, the item is usually recovered while I try to convince everyone around me (and myself) that I'm really not insane.
And just when I think I've seen, done and heard it all, I'm usually proven wrong. Because there's always tomorrow.
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