This year, I covered every story imaginable from social media threats and officer-involved shootings to City Council meetings and business openings.
Every person I met throughout my reporting had a story to tell and some stories affected me more than others.
Below are five stories this year which I feel best reflects my job as a journalist and why I do what I do.
I’ve always felt the job of a true journalist was to tell stories that matter.
1. She loved Teddy Graham crackers
This was one of the first stories I wrote when I transferred from HNNDaily to WYDaily in January. It was also one of the hardest stories I had to write. The Gabel family lost their daughter, Lakin, in a car crash. She was 21. They let me talk to them for more than two hours about what happened to their daughter, how they were each coping with her death, raising her infant son and their decision to petition the state for distracted driving laws. The family still keeps her first Christmas tree lit year-round, just the way she left it. READ MORE.
2. Surviving your daughter’s suicide
It was heart-wrenching to hear how these two mothers lost their daughters to suicide and their journey toward finding support and eventually, creating a group for those who have no one else to lean on. I didn’t realize the stigma of having a daughter who died of suicide, how difficult it could be to find people who “weren’t afraid of you” and facing the reality of living longer than your child. “There was nothing the child couldn’t do,” Elaine Roberts said. “The only thing Kalia couldn’t do was live.” READ MORE.
3. Unhealthy living conditions
Seeing a 9-month-old baby napping in his playpen without AC was hard. Writing about it objectively was even harder. Hearing how people who don’t have a lot of money were living in moldy, roach and rodent-infested apartments with their children seemed unfair. One parent I spoke with said her son even developed asthma because of the conditions. These people already have to deal with crime and no security measures on a day-to-day basis, is it too much to ask to fix their apartment until they can afford to move out? Or to go even further, expedite the process so they can move out? READ MORE.
4. Virginia Beach mass shooting
It was just another Friday for my colleagues in Virginia Beach on May 31, but then everything changed after an employee opened fire and killed 11 of his colleagues and a contractor. I helped cover the shooting to give my colleagues a break from staying up through the night trying to piece together the story of what happened. The two news conferences the next day were heartbreaking as we learned the names and saw on a slideshow the faces of the people who died. Over and over again, I had to write the names of the people who died and I reached out to families who were dealing with losing their loved one in such a horrific way. They were brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers and fathers. READ MORE.
5. The death of a 2-year-old
I’ve covered the case of Noah Tomlin, a boy from Buckroe Beach who was missing for days before his body was found at the city’s steam plant. It was difficult hearing the details of what investigators found and his autopsy report. Noah died of blunt force trauma to the head and his body was so badly beaten over time that his bones had literally stopped growing. The commonwealth attorney’s office had to request an anthropologist to piece together Noah’s bone fragments because of the body’s advanced state of decomposition. “When asked to describe the state of Noah Tomlin’s body, Bell said imagine an item so to speak that has pamper around it, one leg and some muscle.” READ MORE.