Last week I shared a few thoughts on my feelings as the local reporter who happens to also be a community member.
In that same issue I shared the story of Apparel Graphics, a local business done good. A story which was hard for to write personally speaking as its founder Jason Turnage was once my neighbor as well as a dear friend. His wife and three beautiful children I consider family, as well as his mom, sister and extended family. They’re the kind of people that can and will do anything for you and in return people rise up to do the same. That’s the kind of guy Jason Turnage was. The kind of guy that made every person he met feel at home and as if they’d known him a lifetime.
Needless to say sharing the story of his company’s success four years post his passing from colon cancer was a struggle. Actually my emotion and feelings were somewhat conflicting. It was a struggle, as well as an honor. His partner and best bud Paul Riva, continues at the helm of the successful award-winning screen print and embroidery business and the business is thriving. Finding the words was the struggle.
I’ve shared in this space before that I take my work to heart. Each and every piece I pen, my hope is always the same: I hope I get it right. The ‘right’ has little to do with semantics, grammar or facts. The ‘right’ for me as the person trusted to tell the story is more about the person, business or organization being pleased with the outcome.
That might seem odd to some. We are after all in the ‘news’ business and we do accept that what we do or how we do it, will often times not make people happy. Community news/human interest stories, I like to think of as different, that’s why I love them.
I love the fact that people allow me into their homes, classrooms, offices and storage rooms to show me around and share their story. Everyone has a story, that’s what’s both unique and awesome about what I get to do, each and every day.
I’m a chatty one. My interviews tend to go longer than they should because I enjoy hearing and sharing life experiences with others. It’s fun to leave an interview and have people want to hug you, because you made them feel comfortable.
I still recall the early days of coming to this building and being shocked by how much trust total strangers put into our ability. Oh sure, there’s always the handful who request to see the story before it goes to press, a request we graciously decline, but most offer simple gratitude.
Naturally there’s the displeased person who doesn’t agree with the angle we may take or the way in which it’s written. That’s okay too. It’s actually part of the reason we have Letters to the Editor or now the ever popular Blog, where everyone can take their turn at being a ‘writer.’
My column, now that’s a different piece unto itself. In short, it’s a unique opportunity for me as the reporter to show a bit of who I am, all while trying to figure life out at the same time. It’s fun to hear back from people and have them share relatable stories from a ‘musing’ I’ve shared.
What this all means, I really have little clue. What I know, is I’m grateful to those who trust me with their words, who share their nervousness when we meet only to then discover I’m not that scary. Grateful for the opportunity to bring unique, wonderful and often inspiring stories to the homes, desktops and tablets of our readers. Thank you.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021