The morning of July 20, 2012, my boss called and woke me up. “Candace, there’s been a shooting,” he began.
I immediately thought he meant at our office or the Seattle office.
“At a movie theater in Colorado,” he continued.
Now I was wondering why he called to tell me that. Oh, right, because we’re in the news business and it was our job to cover it. He asked how quickly I could get to the office to help the overnight editor. By that time, I had jumped out of bed in my Midtown West apartment and started pulling on clothes.
Now it wasn’t often that I got called out of bed to do my job, but the first thing I did upon waking up was check what breaking news alerts had come in when I was sleeping. That would generally determine how quickly I got out of bed.
I was updating the homepage from home while Superstorm Sandy was beating down on my building. I peeked out the window of the sixth-floor kitchen and watched the winds pick up and the sky turn dark around noon. I appreciated working because I didn’t know what else to do. The storm was coming for Manhattan. If I wasn’t working on this story, I’d be reading all I could about it anyway.
It was the Sandy Hook massacre that really took a toll on me. After hours of work on the story, I had to step away from my computer to take a break. In news, you often have to delay feeling until after your shift. You just have to to get through it. This wasn’t one of those times when I could just deal with it after work. The long days of Sandy Hook coverage changed my feelings about journalism. It was heartbreaking to see pictures of children grieving their classmates. To hear stories of the 6 year olds whose lives were lost.
I stopped paying attention to news in my off hours. I’d leave the office at 3:30 p.m. and avoid TV and news alerts until 6 the next morning.
Now 12 days since I left my journalism career, I find myself really enjoying the peace of not knowing all the details. I catch the headlines and my aunt fills me in over breakfast, but it’s not my job to know anymore. I’m sure after my detox, I’ll start following news again. I know it’s important to be informed about ISIS, ebola and what the King County council is deciding.
But for now, burying my head in the sand feels really good.