FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK: The reality of actually gathering the news

Posted on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

Sometimes the head-racking stress of this job for one day is enough for three lifetimes I think.

Put up you violin of sorrow and take off your hat, I’m not throwing a pity party. But sometimes I think a good knowledge is good to help us understand one another.

Saturday is a good example. It was a nice day … for tragedy, apparently.

A woman was found dead in Summitville. A toddler accidentally shot himself in the head with a gun left out in the residence. I was busy. Much to the disappointment of Cole I should add, who had his ball-throwing session with me cut short.

The questions that race through your head throughout the day can be borderline psychotic with voices screaming many different things: Check this source. Tweet that. Take that picture. Take another one from this angle. Settings were off. Change the camera settings. Call a source. Try to corroborate that information. Is that Tweet right? Can I update the website from my cell phone? Why is that deputy yelling at all the media for nothing? When will we have details?

That was just in Summitville – the scene of an alleged murder. Hours later, eyes shut and almost into an early sleep and I get a call. It’s Julia Bruck from News Channel 4 in Nashville.

A toddler was shot?

Time to get up and wake up Holly.

“I’ll get back as quick as a can, honey.”

And then the voices come again.

Call law enforcement. Got a little information so tweet that. Can I take a picture, it’s really dark? Ask a question? Why won’t this guy help me? Text Julia back. Now update the website. Where is a cop who can talk to the media? Here he comes. No details until Monday. Can you confirm a child was shot? Not confirming anything. Go to the car. There has to be a better way. Text source. Finally some answers. Better tweet and update people. Whoops, that was the wrong address. Re-tweet that.

Are you still with me? Perhaps you took to Google to find me a good psychiatrist.

It can be intense and confusing gathering that type of sensitive information. It can also be gratifying when you get the job done right. And I just wanted to take this space this week to thank all of our Twitter followers, Facebook likers (I know that isn’t a word) and website readers for sticking with us throughout the day as we released accurate information as quickly as possible.

A day like that could drive a man crazy. But then you remember why you’re doing it: someone has to.

Someone has to carry on a 133-year tradition of news excellence. Someone has to inform those who trust you to. Someone has to gather the news and document history.

It’s gratifying to deliver. Unfortunately, it’s sad the situations that warrant all-day coverage on a Saturday.

The voices will probably never stop.

It’s ok, though, I won’t either.

-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at mteditor@lcs.net or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29

Headlines of the Day