As much as I love my job, I freely admit there are stories I would much rather not have to cover.
For instance, in the early days of my career, I had to write about a local woman who pretended to have cancer in order to reap the benefits of the community’s outpouring of support. I was the “bad guy” who figured out that her story just didn’t make any sense, and exposed the lie to the rest of the community.
It’s not a lot of fun telling 6,000 people they’ve been duped.
A year or two later, I went out to cover a pretty horrific accident scene — the head-on collision of two cars — only to have it turn into a six-hour standoff with police. To this day, I still have a deeply-rooted aversion to “ambulance chasing” because of that experience.
But perhaps the darkest days of my career have been when I have had to cover criminal jury trials. Generally, the details that come out of those are never good for anyone, and can be easily misconstrued to paint an unsavory picture of even the most law-abiding people.
But we live in a nation where secret arrests and incarceration without the due process of law are forbidden. The public not only has a right to know, but has a need to know what is happening in our courtrooms.
So, I suck it up, and take one for the team. Thankfully, they don’t happen too frequently, even in densely populated counties.
Last week, I covered my first criminal jury trial in nearly seven years. So, needless to say, I was shaking off a bit of rust at the start of the proceedings. But, by the end, I was getting back up to speed.
But I can assure you, I would have much rather been doing just about anything — even scrubbing the toilets with the night janitors at the DMACC Boone Campus — than sitting through that trial. Which is why I have all the respect in the world for those who do that sort of thing for a living.
And, more importantly, it’s why I have all the respect in the world for the folks who take the time out of their own lives to serve as jurors. Next time you see someone with a “juror” tag, you may not be allowed to talk about the case he or she is sitting in on, but there’s nothing that says you can’t say, “Thank you,” for doing their civic duty on our behalf.
If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.
Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.