I’ve been asking Steve Massey, the editor at feature section of Post-Gazette to assign me whatever comes up. He's been trying his best. But sometimes things really don't work as per your wish. On Monday, I attended the budget meeting of local section at 10:30 a.m. Lillian Thomas and her team exchanged info on what stories reporters were working on. But, at 11, there was another meeting of all section heads. I attended that meeting too.
So, on April 8, I was all set to go; go out and see how American reporters work. I was told to shadow Moriah Balingit, a crime reporter at Post-Gazette. Moriah turned out to be as new in the newspapering as I am in the city. So, both of us headed to Pittsburgh Police Headquarters "just to hang out".
How different--the police office back home is a mess, literally. But, here it was, a swanky office, no crowd. To me it didn't look like a poilce office, it rather looked like an office of a corporate house in Nepal. We entered the office, Moriah asked for a key and opened the door of press room. A while ago, she was refering to an office and I was wondering what office she was talking about. After a while, Jill King Greenwood, a reporter at Pittsburgh Tribune Review, a competitor of PG, arrived in the office. We exchanged hellos. Then, the telephone rang, Moriah scribbled something in her notebook. Off we were to a crime scene.
I have very few experince of covering a crime scene in my eight year long career as a journo. But, here I was also anxious to know how crime is handled by police. As Moriah confessed, she happens to be a directionally challenged person. So I am, I said. After roaming some places, we reached the scene. But, it turned out that it was not a homicide as she was frequently refering it to.
The neighbors could not tell for sure what happened inside a house in Lawrenceville, Calvin. It also showed the apathy of people. For a person coming from a close knit society that relies on one another in difficult times, it was quite baffling. Back home, there would have been a huge crowd gathered to mourn the deceased.
Then, it took us a while to know what happened inside the house. It turned out that an elderly mother and a young daughter who presumedly cared for her, lived there. The young woman died while sleeping and the mother was taken to a hospital.
A policewoman said: It's a female and a natural death. That was that. Nothing more. Moriah lamented that being new in the city is pretty hard for a reporter.
In the evening, Steve had instructed me to speak to a couple of Americans about the economy; its impact on middle class Americans. There was a Pew Report about American middle class having tough time. Following Steve's instructions, on April 9, I went to interview few people in the foodcourt at PPG. Out of ten people I approached, only two persons agreed to be interviewed. Among them, one turned out to be quite vocal, maybe because he was old and therefore free to talk to. But the other gentleman was not aware of the major issues.
With a happy feeling that I got a few good quotes for the story, I returned to the office. I filed the story hoping that it will be incorporated. But, it occured that I was out of sync.
Today, however, turned out to be an excellent day. David Shribman, executive editor of Post-Gazette invited me for lunch. We went to a restaurant nearby. Greg Victor, my mentor accompanied us. We talked about Nepal's politics, (I reminded Mr. Shribman that it was an election day in Nepal), China, America's image abroad, newpapers shrinking, PG's mission and how he felt about being the editor of a daily with a circulation of 240 thousand. He said: We've been only talking about money but not about news. He felt good in that he didn't have even a minute to waste. So it seemed: He was going to deliver keynote speech in a program.