It’s been six months.
Now, I know this length of time may not seem too significant — although it holds great meaning for high school students in “romantic” relationships — but the last six months working as a hyper local reporter have given me indescribable joy and satisfaction. And maybe it’s fruitless to use the word “indescribable” since I’m literally paid to describe things, but to its core, this experience is one I’m endlessly grateful to have and it’s only just the start.
I think it’s important to mention that a year ago I in no way envisioned that this was how my future would pan out. It was the final six weeks of classes, right after spring break, and murmurs of intrigue and anticipation flooded the halls of LIU Post, particularly for graduating seniors. Since I was one of these poor, unfortunate souls, I simply buried my nose in my books, dodging the metaphorical bullets that forced me to talk about an uncertain future.
The truth is I was scrambling.
I had only recently joined sites like LinkedIn and Indeed to push my résumé out to any employer that would have me and assured my curious peers that the job search was slow but hopeful. It was just slow.
Graduation came and went with all its pomp and circumstance, and it wasn’t until midsummer that my frustrations with being underemployed burned hotter than the sands of the Sound-side country club where I worked. I’d spend my breaks on the terminal computer at my cashier station — which thankfully had internet access — to incessantly apply for jobs in my field.
And then September came. It had been four months since that stand-in excuse of a diploma was placed into my hands, and I had only two in-person interviews under my belt — one warranted a “we’ll let you know,” and the other warranted a short-lived, unpaid internship with a celebrity gossip site that I sullenly accepted out of desperation.
While loathing to my country club coworkers about how the internship was nothing like I had hoped it would be, I got a voicemail. It was from the Herald’s executive editor. A quick phone call, a few emails and one nerve-wracking interview later, I was hired.
My first day was Sept. 25, the same day Rep. Tom Suozzi held a press conference to address the cancellation of DACA. How many new hires can say they met a U.S. Congressman on their first day of work?
For the first few weeks, I played the stereotypical fish-out-of-water employee, a routine that was uncharted territory for yours truly. Among a myriad of other things, I learned how to slug photos, package copy, and properly operate a digital camera. I had asked for one as a Christmas gift when I was in high school, solely interested in its aesthetic — it had been collecting dust in my room for years before this.
Each month has positioned me to constantly learn from every aspect of the job. I’ve found inspiration from many of my sources: kids who volunteered their time or had their voices heard in an effort to make their communities a better place; business owners who were welcoming and warm; residents who were unafraid to challenge the status quo. As I write this now, I smile thinking of them.
Then of course there were the more challenging assignments. I will recommend to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the media not to start in the midst of an election season — it’s self-sabotage. Imagine sitting in on three, one-hour interviews almost every day nodding robotically at your subjects who are selling you polished, packaged answers about why they’re the best choice for elected office, even if they were accused of tampering with their opponent’s lawn signs or sending out vulgar mailers denouncing their opponent just weeks before the polls open.
I was hesitant to write the story about the former; I had only been working for three weeks, so I felt less than qualified to pen such a significant piece. But its importance trumped my trepidations, as in most cases with reporting, and the feeling of satisfaction that fueled my veins from hearing “no comment” from the alleged sign-stealers was some sort of odd magic that keeps my cogs wheeling fueling me to continue to do what I do, no matter how daunting the task. It’s a tough line to tow, but we all know the News12 anchors eating chowder on the air aren’t going to do it.
Reporting has brought me to places I would have never expected to visit while “out on assignment:” the beaming county Legislature building, the historic T.R. Audubon Sanctuary, secluded beaches on the shores of Hempstead Harbor, and, most surprisingly, Republican headquarters on Election Night (for your reference, I have a “Nasty Woman” sticker plastered on my laptop).
When I declared a college major all those years ago, all I knew was that I wanted to write. I never intended to end up at a weekly community newspaper; I rather saw myself drafting screenplays and novels from a Manhattan apartment (to be fair that dream got shot to hell when I looked up the rent for such a venue) while working a day job at a glossy magazine (and that dream got shot to hell after I watched “13 Going On 30”).
But here I am, six months into my first job as a weekly community newspaper reporter, and I cannot exaggerate how many times I’ve said that I love it; that I am blessed with — in my completely biased opinion — a great coverage area; and how lucky I am to have met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, source, coworker and otherwise.