Sunday, January 25, 2009

a passion for tragedy

I should probably post the stories I did Friday before it gets too late. In the fast-paced world of breaking news, there's just never enough time for self-promotion. It was a polarized day: a dead body and a charity fund raiser.

I can't get over the excitement of this new internship. I'm working eight-hour shifts—plus school—and need to get up unearthly early, but I'm having a blast. The adrenaline high gets me through, particularly when my pager goes off and displays something to the tune of "MaricopaFD—Body found. Now CONFRIMRED dead. PD and FD to en route."

Friday was the first time I was dispatched to the scene. As soon as the call came in for the body, my editor, Aric, turned to me and said "you'd better get rolling." I hurried downstairs and just as I was getting into my truck, a call came in for an aircraft crash in Flagstaff.

I called Aric:
"Hey Aric. What was that?"
"We don't know yet. Just keep going to the body scene and I'll get Drew to work on whatever this is."
"Okay, I'll call you when I get there."
"Right, just see if anyone's talking yet and DON'T cross the police tape, remember?"
"Ha, right. I'll look for details and neighbors, then call you back."
"Okay; get going."


After a few hours, you start to get a sense of how many bad things happen in a city the size of Phoenix—fires, shootings, drowings, murder, plane crashes, etc. It seems a bit cold, but I really do find myself wishing bad things will happen, just to get the thrill of covering an epic story. I don't want people hurt, but the urgency is addictive.

Regardless, I don't cause these things; I make them into stories. It may seem callous to probe tragedy for information, but I think my job has the potential to give meaning to seemingly horrible events. By understanding and reporting on these events, I can turn them from a bad day into a day to be remembered. It's my job.

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