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Journalists share what drives their work

October 10, 2019 at 5:00 a.m. | Updated October 10, 2019 at 5:58 p.m.

Reporters are the first ones on the scene when something good happens and the first ones out in the community when something tragic occurs. We can be the cheerleaders, the watchdogs and the bearers of bad news, sometimes all in one day.

Being a journalist isn't a cookie-cutter type job - the topics, communities, hours and stories evolve daily. It keeps us on our toes and coming back for more.

The News Tribune employs a dozen journalists with varying years of experience and expertise. For National Newspaper Week, some of the reporters and editors reminisced about their favorite parts about the job and what drives them to keep producing excellent journalistic work. And some injected some humor into their answer.

Phillip Sitter, state government and higher education reporter: "If I had to only name one thing, it would be being able to be present for the unexpected - the power of moments that you can just never see coming, maybe that I'd never have experienced otherwise, whether getting to meet incredibly kind or talented people helping their community, wholly committing to a performance or journey, or finding pride in themselves, or me being able to do a collection of things maybe no else has or ever will - ride on a boat on a flooded river, see a bird of prey up close, be out on patrol with a police officer, talk to a scientist about space weather, witness new technologies being invented, etc.

Julie Smith, chief photographer: "I do this job because I don't suck at it."

Madeleine Leroux, HER Magazine and features editor: "My favorite part about being a journalist is being able to meet new people from different walks of life and hear their stories. In the more than 10 years that I've been reporting, I've had the privilege of meeting so many different people who allowed me into their lives for a moment and trusted me to tell their story. Nothing has meant more than that, and I have some truly cherished memories along the way. Though I have had the fun of talking to some famous people along the way, the interviews I remember most are usually those who fly under the radar. To this day, one of my all-time favorite interviews was with a wonderful woman in Babbtown, near Meta, who played the organ at St. John's Lutheran Church for more than 65 years and rarely missed a Sunday."

Jeff Haldiman, public safety, Cole County government and courts reporter: "I've been fortunate to work in three different forms of journalism - radio, television and print. I first thought about being a journalist when I was 13 and thanks to a lot of great people in my life, I was able to make that idea a reality. While there are plenty of frustrations that come with this job, as they do with any field of endeavor, I can think of few jobs that offer a person the opportunity to be witness to events that can range from everyday happenings to truly historic moments."

Emily Cole, city government reporter: "Journalism to me is so important. I took it for granted until I was part of it, but without journalism - especially local journalism - the world would be so much less informed about important issues. Whether you're writing about statewide law changes or controversial city-specific sidewalk bills, what you're doing matters. That's partly why I love it. The second reason is the ability to tell stories for a living. I love sitting down with interesting people and being able to share their stories with the readers. If that story makes a difference, it's even better. Plus, sometimes you get to write about a new dog grooming truck or sky-diving tunnel!"

Danisha Hogue, education reporter: "I got into journalism because storytelling is so important to society. Writing is my passion. I enjoy telling people about what's going on around them to increase their awareness. Being a reporter has made me a better citizen."

Nicole Roberts, community engagement editor: "I jumped into journalism because I loved to write, and I enjoyed learning about current issues. Over the years though, I think the best parts about being a journalist, for me, are not necessarily the politics - it's constantly learning about new things and being able to tell stories about everyday people, whether they be your family members, friends, neighbors, business partners, whoever. I firmly believe everyone has a story (even though many sources tell me they're 'not interesting'). People have welcomed me into their homes and businesses to chat about some of their best and worst moments. All of those moments make each person unique and make our city what it is today."

Gerry Tritz, opinion page editor: "As the opinion page editor, I get to stir up people with my editorials by day. As a magician, I get to put smiles on people's faces on evenings/weekends. Life's all about balance."


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