Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Minor Neuroses

I was at home this afternoon getting ready to go meet a classmate when I heard “Oh my God!” from the other room. My roommate saw a breaking news headline on the Internet and immediately flipped on the TV. By now, everyone and my mother has heard of the small plane that crashed into a high-rise apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, killing Yankees pitcher, Cory Lidle. At the time, it was breaking news.

I sat there in front of the TV set, “antennae up,” as Prof. W. is fond of saying, riveted by the news unfolding just uptown. My first instinct was to head up there and see what I could see. But self-doubt set in before I could get my act together. Who would I talk to? Would anybody take me seriously? How would I get official facts and figures? In reality I knew the answers to these silly questions, but I still let something stop me from heading out the door.

It doesn’t make sense: why should I, an aspiring reporter, be so freaked out by talking to people? I know I’m not the only one going through this. Everybody in my class speaks of similar fears, and we’re told by veteran news people that it gets easier the more you do it. It’s usually a relief talking to sources once I get past the initial hesitation. But there’s so much hesitation that I often block myself from getting what I need on the scene.

If you can’t imagine what this feels like, think about the first time you called a boy or girl you were interested in. It’s that level of butterflies, every time I pick up the phone to call someone for information, or approach somebody for an interview. Will he or she be home when I call? What if they don’t have anything to say? What if they think I’m heinous? Okay, that last one was more something I would think back in college—I mean, high school—I mean middle school, calling a boy.

What’s really the worst that could happen? That’s what I’m supposed to think to myself. Who the hell cares what people think? I’m getting a story, I’ve got noble intentions, and I’m damn cute. But somehow, I’ve got this paranoid-telemarketer complex, like I’m some big intrusion into people’s lives in the middle of dinner.

I certainly don’t mean to make light of today’s plane crash, because it’s very sad but I just wanted to give you a little glimpse into the neurotic mind of a newbie reporter/student. Thank God the country wasn’t relying on me to get the story.

The moronic part of the whole thing is that when I got back from my meeting, there was this email waiting for me from Prof. W.:
Dear Reporters,

I just learned that a small aircraft has crashed into a residential building at 524 East 72d St.
The crash occurred at about 2:45, news reports say.

If any of you are free and want the practice of doing either a news story or a sidebar story, this is a great opportunity, if you are able and willing.

Please contact me immediately at _________, if you are interested.

Professor W.

I felt awesome after that. I was definitely free (the classmate I was meeting would have understood if I had to cancel). I was able and willing. But Fraidy-Cat Suzanne didn’t want to go. Next time, I’ll have to stuff Fraidy-Cat Suzanne in the closet and Bold News-Getter Suzanne will be free to go to the scene.

Image borrowed respectfully from fotosearch


Anonymous Omar said...

I know exactly what you mean. Seriously, I used to be super shy about things like that. In fact, I still am but I think the way I get over it is by not giving myself time to even think about my actions in the first instance. I know that sounds really stupid, but the fact is that all you're going to do is start thinking about all the negative possibilities. I't human nature.

I find that first reactions to any given situation are usually the right ones anyway. When you thought to yourself that you needed to run out there and grab that story, you were right. Don't think so much. I'm sure you have a real accute sense for shoulds shouldn'ts (shitty english I know, mais tu sais que c'est ma deuxiéme langue!)so just dive in.

Unleash the lioness within!

5:32 AM  

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