I started this blog when I first found out I got my first job as a reporter back in 2011. I did really well chronicling my adventures as a newbie reporter. But after a while, I kind of fell off the blogging wagon. So here is my attempt to get back on!
My last post was in March of 2017 talking about my 4 year work anniversary at KSLA. Three and a half months after my last blog post was written, I was saying goodbye to the station I called home and the people who became family.
By June of 2017, I had spent roughly six years in Louisiana launching my journalism career and it was a few years longer than I expected. It was a long time to be away from my family and friends in Virginia. Being away from Virginia started out as an exciting adventure, but after a while started to feel like something else. It seemed the closer I inched toward turning 30-years-old the more I started to feel moving closer to my family needed to be a priority. My Louisianan husband understood and agreed we could spend time living in my home state.
Once we decided that living in Virginia was our goal, our plan seemed to move very quickly. My husband Clay was offered a job in Roanoke, Virginia as a meteorologist. We were ecstatic! This meant we were moving to Virginia! But there was a snag to the plan, he was offered the job four and a half months before my contract with KSLA was up. At the time, I was the station’s chief investigative reporter. It was my dream job and I was loving every minute of it! I was also committed to an iron clad contract. After much discussion, we made the painstaking decision to live long distance for those few months. Looking back on it, that time apart seems like a blur. But when I was in that time apart from him, it was very difficult. My husband is my best friend, we had worked in the same workplace since we first met, have the same friends, and love doing everything together. To say that living a thousand miles away was an adjustment is an understatement. My friends Eric, Nick, and Madison and many more were my saving grace during that time.
Even though it was hard, we made it work!
I visited Roanoke once a month and he flew out to Shreveport for a week to help me pack up the apartment and move to Roanoke. All of those visits to Virginia gave me a chance to check out all of the stations in the city. On only my second visit in March, a station visit to WDBJ7 quickly turned into an impromptu job interview and a few days later I received a job offer to be the first ever (at least in recent years) investigative reporter at the station. I was pumped that I didn’t have to worry about getting a job AND that I potentially would be able to continue doing my dream job once I left Shreveport. Well, sometimes things don’t work out as planned. But I digress.
The thought of leaving KSLA was tough. I met some of my best friends there and worked with the coolest people in the industry at that station. The newsroom at its best worked as a well-oiled machine and the corporate company and its managers always had an eye on the future of journalism. I loved that we placed such a priority on digital and investigative reporting. The station also wasn’t afraid to invest in professional development. They paid for me to go to an IRE Watchdog Workshop in Baton Rouge and also the IRE Conference in New Orleans in 2016. I was at KSLA through many different manager regimes, but overall I felt the station operated with capital “J” journalism in mind. The managers didn’t shy away from tough reporting and holding those in power accountable. Instead of being afraid of ruffling feathers, they made sure our reporting was fair, accurate, and reviewed by our attorneys. Also, I have to give a shout-out to the general manager during my last year there. He came in determined to make working at the station a good experience. He had all of the employees fill out a survey about our complaints. Within his first year, he made a special effort to not only fix problems like parking, not enough vending machine options, lack of a fridge, but he also held the station’s first-ever Employee Appreciation Day. I’m talking free massages, gift card giveaways all day, and games with prizes. He also resurrected the station’s social committee. I joined the committee and with the help of the social chair Eric Pointer, the committee pulled off an amazing Christmas Party! We even gave out trophies for employee superlatives! Any leader who understands that newsroom and station morale is important is a good leader in my eyes.
I look back on my experience at KSLA as a good one. I had a chance to grow as a journalist and was given opportunities to not only do general assignment reporting, but anchor, produce, and do investigative journalism.
But in the end, family trumps career. Family is everything. Being able to live only hours away from my 94-year-old grandma and aging parents means the world to me. I’m even driving distance to my sister’s family in Pittsburgh so I can be a part of my 6-year-old nephew’s childhood. The icing on the cake is I’m able to go to baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings of my best friends. I got to personally hand my grandma her birthday gift, cook breakfast for my mom on Mother’s Day and take my dad bowling for Father’s Day. My husband now has a great personal relationship with my parents since we live close enough for them to get to know each other. In the end, the sacrifice of giving up my dream job and living a long distance from my husband for a few months was worth it. There will always be other dream jobs and eventually, we plan to move back to Louisiana so my husband can have the same special experiences of living near family. But until then, I am soaking up every minute living in my home state.
Also, Roanoke has to be my favorite city I’ve ever lived in. We truly are lucky we landed here!
Just for fun, this is the video the social committee made for our Christmas Party in 2016: