By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
I went on vacation last week and spent the first days watching out for Mom and Dad during Sandy’s local strike on West Virginia. Fortunately, they didn’t lose power this time; they lost electricity for a week after July’s windstorm. I managed to relax a little, catch up on some of my own writing, and perform sundry chores before I returned to work.
Of course, when I came back to work Monday one of the first things I heard was a police scanner alert about a gunshot in Bluefield. Photographer Eric DiNovo and I ran out there and got some information and photos for the Telegraph’s website. Then Editor Samantha Perry called and told us to head for Wright’s Mountain near Rock — somebody had caught intruders on his property and had to shoot one of them. Fortunately, I had a full tank of gas. Eric and I got lost for a few minutes until we encountered, thank goodness, a mail carrier; they usually know an area better than anyone else. When you have to find a place quickly, you learn to put your ego aside and ask for directions. She was nice enough to point us toward the correct road; naturally enough, Wright’s Mountain Road didn’t have a sign.
We arrived, got photos and most of the story, headed down an unfamiliar road to Lashmeet, got lost again for a moment, then found our way back to Princeton and the Mercer County Courthouse.
Naturally, I thought that those shootings were going to be my big events of the day. After more than 20 years in the news business, you would think that I would know better. Later than evening there was an armed robbery in Bluefield that yielded only $2. A few hours later, a suspect matching the description of the first robber struck again. I went out to both robberies and got cold both times. Both the shootings and robberies were what I call “on-the-run” situations; police have to learn the facts before they can share any with you. There is a lot of hurry up and wait. You can’t get away from it.
This was all before a general election. Our night of preparation, watching the results come in, and waiting for the pizza to arrive. We spend a lot of time preparing “standing ads,” stories with background and other details to save us time when the deadline starts to approach. Samantha urged us along by saying nobody could have pizza until their standing ads were ready. I didn’t need any more urging.
Usually, we’re prepared to the point where we can get done in two or three hours; it’s all a matter of getting those precious numbers and precious results.
Of course, being prepared doesn’t mean that nothing bad can happen. I still remember one election night when our main computer server hiccuped, you might say. For several awful minutes, we thought that we had lost the entire election day edition. Our tech people worked frantically, and we soon learned that the computer’s memory had survived. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if all was lost.
Last Tuesday night had its usual glitches, but we came through and turned out yet another election day edition. I know we all did the best we could and produced the best product possible. Whether it was good news or bad news on the doorstep Wednesday morning depended on the reader.
The good news for us was the fact that we got to record history. The bad news is that we all had to go back to work Wednesday. News doesn’t stop, and it doesn’t care if you didn’t get much sleep. Now comes the step of following what happens during the next four years now that the president has a second term. One way or another, the coming four years are going to be interesting. I’m just hoping they’re not like that classic Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. The country has had enough of that sort of “interesting.”
With hope, these four years will be notable for the cooperation among our nation’s leaders. When Obama’s second term ends, we will be here for another election night. I wonder who will be running for the White House then, and what sort of situation will the winner inherit. I’m sure we are all hoping it will be a better situation. Many of the people I talk to are tired of the bickering and unwillingness to compromise that they are seeing in Washington, D.C.
The election is over, so it’s time to start working on the nation’s many problems. I know we don’t want to keep writing stories about job layoffs and high unemployment rates. We would much rather do stories about new businesses coming to the region and the hiring of scores of people.
If positive changes come, we will do our best to chronicle them; of course, these good things have to happen before we can write stories about them. We all need to put our differences aside and work together to create the sort of country we want. That sort of world won’t come about with more bickering over our differences.
Greg Jordan is senior reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.