The path I took with no regrets into following news

Published 12:22pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

I imagine those who work in the other communication fields to go home from work at 5 p.m. and dive into a pile of money Scrooge McDuck-style. I look at other professionals and imagine they must travel to exotic locations and have things called weekends. I watch this unfold sometimes on Facebook while I eat macaroni and cheese from a coffee cup.

I wonder what it is like to not be a journalist — to have a life where you have to read the news to get the news, instead of being completely immersed in it each day to where you laugh at someone who says, “wait they are closing the bridge on Dallas Avenue?” Or how would you know about the juicy details that never make it in the paper or how someone’s voice broke in an interview about a lost loved one?

But as weird as the hours are and as odd as my job may seem some days as I talk to strangers and speed without my seat belt on to crime scenes, I think any other path would have been plain boring and I would have too much time on my hands.

This week, despite some dramatic news moments, our newsroom received some much needed recognition that helped me realize why we do it each day.

A fire broke out on Alabama Avenue Tuesday and it was tough to watch the firemen struggle through the heat and watch the homeowners panic as they looked on to their things being consumed. The crowd on the street screamed at the fire department, pleading with them to stop the flames.

I walked around for the rest of the workday Tuesday smelling like a chimney. I sat in the drive through at a restaurant instead of going inside for fear of how I smelled. The woman working the window winced when I rolled down my window and she got a whiff of the barbecue pit that was my hair.

I wonder if other professionals have to come down from an adrenaline rush at dinner time by rolling around on a yoga mat in their rooms, only to get more tense afterwards. I wonder if they keep boots in their cars, “just in case.”

But I bet other professionals do not get to say they work for one of the top papers in Alabama. The Times-Journal placed second in the general excellence category this weekend in Destin. All three news reporters from our paper got to attend. We smiled as all the times we waded through mud or cried after a tough day were validated.

As we drove back from the beach, award in hand, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, windows down at 1 a.m. singing Elton John as loud as we could, I wonder if that bridge means to me what it does to other professionals. I pity those who do not associate the feeling of seeing downtown while cresting the bridge, with coming home.

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