Assignment changes are common during a typical workday. Breaking news and better stories often trump whatever reporters are covering. Major breaking news can mean going days without sleep or breaks. But that usually involves one story. Covering six different stories in a single workday is a new record for me. And my fifth assignment on Friday was no picnic. I had to race to the Governor’s office to report on new developments in the Illinois pension reform predicament. It’s perhaps the biggest crisis this state has ever faced. Obviously, it’s a major story so I try my best to stay informed just in case I have to cover it.
But as soon as I walked into Governor Quinn’s offices on the 16th floor of the State of Illinois building, I was greeted with looks of pity from reporters who cover politics full-time. ABC7’s Charles Thomas expressed how challenging it is for them to cover the pension crisis even though they’re familiar with the proposed bills and the major players involved. Here I was parachuting in with less than an hour to go before my live update on WGN Midday News. I got it done amid a lot of stress that likely showed on the air. But I’m not complaining. I think most journalists thrive on the intellectual challenges and high pressure situations that come with the news business.
My day wasn’t over after Governor Quinn’s news conference. I had a scheduled shoot Friday afternoon for an upcoming WGN Cover Story (more on that soon – it’s a great topic). I was well into my 16th hour of work by the time that wrapped.
Now that I’ve had more than sixteen hours to recover, I have to rewind and document here all the stories I covered on Friday:
1) A police-involved shooting, Northwest Side
2) Arraignments after arrests of 41 suspected gang members, Cook County Criminal Court
3) Deadly hit-and-run, South Side Englewood
4) News conference on “Safe Passage” ahead of historic school closings, North Lawndale
5) Governor’s meeting on Illinois pension reform, Thompson Center
6) WGN Cover Story, South Loop
That list just made me realize we covered a lot of territory along with a lot of stories. I’m signing off now to rest. You never know when an even busier and longer workday might happen.