Never knowing what you might cover leads to rain boots in the trunk
When people ask me what I do at the newspaper, I jokingly tell them I write “the fluff.”
When I say this, I mean my beat typically does not include what you might say is hard news like reporting on crime, city and county board meetings and sports.
My job consists mostly of highlighting the people, places and things that make Vicksburg unique and special.
However, at the request of my editor, there have been times when I have covered or photographed happenings that fall outside my norm.
One of those times was this week.
A fire occurred at the Park Avenue Condominiums. Along with my colleague Courtland Wells, the Post’s photographer, we drove to the site for photographs and videos.
And as luck always has it, I wore heels to work that day. Lucky for me though, I had my rain boots in the back of the car.
A few years back, I was asked to cover something unexpected, and that time I wore my heels to work, too.
For the story, I had to go close to the railroad tracks. I was embarrassed I was wearing dress shoes trying to cover an accident. Also, I was in danger of twisting my ankle on the loose gravel.
For the record, Vicksburg Post reporter John Surratt would never be caught dead wearing something so inappropriate while covering an accident.
So, following this episode, I let my Girl Scout skills kick-in, and I decided to always be prepared.
The boots I would normally have worn in the garden are now part of the gear I keep in the car for newspaper coverage emergencies.
Therefore, after hearing the fire call on the scanner, I went to my car, popped open the trunk and grabbed my boots.
Upon reaching the site, Courtland and I began doing our jobs. He was photographing, and I was videoing.
As we moved closer to the unfortunate scene, I could feel the heat of the fire.
The temperature outside was already in the 90s, but that seemed like nothing compared to the heat emanating from the blaze.
Courtland and I remained at the site for a good half hour watching the firefighters work to extinguish the flames.
And as I watched, I thought about what it must feel like to be that close to the fire while wearing all the protective gear.
Sweat was pouring off me, and I was just wearing a shirt and a pair of pants.
After deciding we had done our job, Courtland and I began making our way back to our vehicles, and in doing so, I noticed one of the first responders sitting on the ground out of harm’s way.
He had removed his headgear, and he was resting and drinking some bottled water.
I looked at him in awe and thought to myself, that would be the story I would like to tell, one of bravery, service and loyalty to one’s hometown.
While it is newsworthy to report on fires and shootings and accidents, it is also vital to any community to share the softer, positive and sometimes more intimate side of the news.
I’m glad I get to write “the fluff.”
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer of The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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