Note: This is longer than my usual post. But with Thanksgiving fast approaching– I wanted to express my gratitude while teaching journalism students a lesson too. I hope that you’ll indulge me and read the whole thing. ~Noeleen
“TV news is a cutthroat business.”
That’s the first thing I tell the journalism students that I mentor.
“Newsrooms are filled with piranha. It’s rare to find even one person that you can trust. Rarer still– to find someone you can call a friend.” That’s why so few people last in TV news. To survive (mentally/emotionally)– you need friends. But friends are hard to come by.
I was fortunate to find a friend at every station I worked at. But the friendships didn’t happen right away. Always– there was a painful process of elimination. And sometimes the friends came in surprising packages like my intern, Brian.
Brian was a wunderkind. He was a freshman in high school when he started interning for me. I kicked his butt on a regular basis. I told him the newsroom wasn’t a playground and if he didn’t want to work– he should stay at home.
Prodigy that he was– he wanted to come to the newsroom– even though home was a great place to be. His mother, Elaine, is a wonderful, big-hearted woman. She opened her home to a few of us on Sundays for dinner, making us feel like we had a family in Abilene.
Truly, it’s people like Elaine that make your television news experience in small markets bearable. Without her, I don’t think I could have survived the year and three months I was there. I missed my family. I was making almost no money; I qualified for food stamps. But Elaine always made me feel rich in her warm and welcoming home.
Brian and I have stayed in touch over the years. Yesterday he emailed me to tell me that his mom has stage four cancer. And I thought– No! Not this lovely woman. It’s not possible. Have I ever really told her how much her kindness meant to me? Have I properly expressed how grateful I was that she came into my life? Does she know that there were plenty of times that I thought about giving up?
But I didn’t…because her kindness and encouragement gave me the strength to keep going when most would have packed it in.
Thus why I say to my journalism students: it’s the people that you meet along the way that not only make the journey enjoyable– they make it possible.
Thank you, Elaine. For your friendship. For your warmth. For your generosity of spirit. I couldn’t have done it without you.