February 10, 2011

Mama/Reporter and the tragedy that fills my day.

The old saying goes, "all in a days work." Well for this mother/news reporter, "a days work" has been taking quite an emotional toll on me.

It began nearly two months ago.

December 14th, 2010: I drop my two year old daughter off early with my best friend/babysitter while I go to a shooting in South Sacramento. When I arrive, I learn a young mother was shot and killed while shielding her two year old son from the flying bullets. Her body was still covered up on the ground, waiting to be removed by the coroner. After doing a couple of live news reports, I called my friend and asked her to hug my little girl. We talked for a few minutes about how easily someone can be gone, how this little boy's life will be forever changed and the sacrifice a mother would make to save her own child. I know that if MY child was caught in the middle of a gun battle, I would do the same thing and possibly be on the ground...covered in a yellow tarp.

Then a little more than a month later, I'm assigned another heart-wrenching story. January 20th, 2011. An Amber Alert is issued for four year old Juliani Cardenas. He was snatched from his grandmother's arms by his mother's ex-boyfriend. It is revealed that little Juliani was yelling "No Daddy! No Daddy!" while being kidnapped. Knowing these were probably some of his last words continue to haunt my memories. And instead of Juliani, I see and hear MY daughter. Arms outstretched, screaming to be let go. Sadly, two weeks after being kidnapped, Juliani's body was pulled from a Patterson canal.

And then a few days later, I am sent to a Placerville elementary school, where a popular principal was murdered inside his office. The scene was chaotic. Parents were yelling and crying and just wanting to hold their children. I completely understood the desperation these men and women were feeling. I know what it's like to hug your child and tell them everything will be okay, when in actuality, you need THEIR hugs to make yourself feel okay.

But as it is in the new biz, tragedy never seems to take a day off. On Wednesday, we received word that a 17-year-old San Joaquin County girl had given birth, killed the baby and then buried it on her parent's property. This was a child killing a child. My heart once again ached for both of them. But I wrote the story up, put the information out there and went home to kiss my baby.

It seems so easy for people to criticize the media. I have heard us be described as heartless and even evil. But what I don't think people understand is that we are not all the same. Each reporter goes into a story as an individual. I see the face of my daughter in the face of all children. I use my compassion as a filter for the questions I ask and the angles I take.

And while you can change the channel, we are hired to stay on the story until the very end. We hear all the gruesome details and witness some things that are too horrifying to even put on air. And then we have to go home, close our eyes and try to move on.

I'm not trying to defend all media. There are those who go too far to get "the story". But there are many of us who just try and give people the details they need and leave out the stuff they don't. The public doesn't need to know all the gory details of a tragedy. Leave that burden to us.


  1. I was thinking the very same thoughts today. My concern was for YOU. Covering, what seemed to be very sad stories, day after day. And that you should get out of the business, to keep your head straight. But then I thought, "Reporters have been doing this for over a century. They had families, too. They made it, OK." And so did all those families of police, fire and ambulance responders. I understand the addiction of what you are doing: radio reporting. The thrill of the chase of the story. To quote the oft-heard admonishment on the old TV series Hill Street Blues: "Be careful out there." And be very, very careful around alcohol.

  2. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to "leave work at work." There are too many times that I see my child's face in a news story. That is just one of those things about being a parent. However, being right up there in the thick of things is a completely different (and far more difficult) perspective. I applaud you for being objective in your reporting when inside I am sure that you are screaming. P.S. Please add military members and their spouses to the list of police, fire, EMT's and reporters!

  3. My heart aches for you and all you carry on your shoulders.

  4. What's funny is that a week ago I sent you a text message that said "I have an idea for you" and you never responded or even asked what it was the next day... This was my idea.

  5. Thanks Nic. You're the best!