So the title is a reference to Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy and if you haven’t watched it you’re missing out. Okay so the title is funny but the post itself is serious… seriously.
This Tuesday I was having dinner with a couple of friends, both of which have career aspirations within the medical field. One of them mentioned how emotionally draining the medical field is. Many of the stories she shared confirmed that. But I also realized how emotionally draining journalism is as well.
Some of the stories we cover every day take us on an emotional roller coaster. You can be happy, bewildered, scared or sad. For some reason I have the hardest time dealing with happy and sad. Sometimes when I do a feature over someone with a positive or happy story, I’m overcome by the character they’ve shown throughout their life or the struggles they had to overcome. I always feel so grateful to have met them.
The first time I experienced such strong emotion was when I covered the opening of the National WASP World War II Museum in my hometown of Sweetwater, Texas, a museum dedicated to Women Airforce Service Pilots. My hometown was where their training base was located. They were trailblazing patriots who paved the way for all women to be treated equally and to be able to serve their country. I cried on the way home after the ceremony; I was just so moved by their stories.
The latest incident of emotional news coverage happened last Friday. I interviewed the woman who helped make Oklahoma the first state with a pancreatic cancer awareness license plate. The tag will be released in November and $20 out of the tags $35 price will go towards pancreatic cancer research. The disease has grim statistics like – for every 425 patients diagnosed in Oklahoma this year with pancreatic cancer, 400 will die within one year from the disease. King chose to support this disease because her twin sister Connie died from it in 2008. Throughout the entire interview King kept it together except once when she spoke of life without her best friend.
“To be able to do this in her memory means a lot,” King said with a shaky voice. Then tears filled her eyes as she went on. “The first year was very difficult and I’ve gotten better. I’m past my grief but I still have my days.”
My eyes got a little teary but I held it together until I got in my car after the interview. I have a twin sister who just happened to be born three years late. We often say the same thing at the exact same time, wear the same thing though we live 10 hours apart and sometimes I’ll have strange emotions throughout the day that make no sense and it turns out she had a bad day. She was all I kept thinking of while I cried, but it was difficult forcing myself away from those thoughts during the interview. Even now while writing it, I have a lump in my throat.
I love this career but it is tough in so many ways. A professor once said that your Weltanshauung – German for world view, philosophy, ideology – is what makes you unique and a good journalist. But you’re a great journalist when you can remove yourself from your weltanshauung and just report.