Memorable past two years, keep asking questions

<strong>From the Reporter’s Desk</strong> Valerie Urbanik

From the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik

A reporter’s job is not what it appears.

The past two years have been a huge learning experience for me and I can assure you — what you think reporters do is probably not true.

Many people assume a journalist focuses only on the negative aspects of a story, won’t tell the whole story, will twist words, only go after the big stories, or sits at their desk waiting for stories to come to them.

Well, I am here to tell you that is wrong.

A reporter is always on call. We have to be very strong mentally, and we have just three reporters to cover three cities — Amherst, Oberlin, and Wellington — so we are always busy and running around.

We want to keep our readers up-to-date and educated on everything happening. That means covering councils, boards of education, non-profits, and commission meetings. When I started in 2014, I never expected to attend as many meetings as I have.

Those meetings have taught me a great deal about how cities and school districts operate and my colleagues over the years have helped me understand every aspect of the job and what the public has access to.

Some people may not understand that we have one main reporter for each paper, which does make it challenging at times. That means we have three journalists trying to cover every event happening in basically western Lorain County, at much as we can squeeze into the week.

I’ve had so many people ask how I can cover so many events. To be honest, I have no idea. What I have learned is each event is important to someone, so I have to make it happen as often as possible.

So please forgive us if we ever seem in a rush, but there are days when we are running from event to event trying to hit everything.

I believe the toughest part of our job is being mentally strong, not afraid to ask questions, even the hard ones. As reporters, we are there when death, suffering, and illness strike. We do feel and understand the pain, anger, and sadness people are going through during those horrible times. Trust me, it is hard for us to make phone calls to those people suffering but we have to. We have to ask those tough questions to help others understand what really happened, how people are dealing with it, and if there’s anything that can be done to help.

But this job has also had some great perks. There have been stories and events I have covered over the past two years that I never expected to covered but am so glad I did.

I went zip-lining at Common Grounds, covered First Lady Michele Obama’s visit to Oberlin College, rode my bicycle 20 miles from Wellington to Amherst for a story, and participated in the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office Citizenship Academy.

Being a reporter opens your eyes and allows you to see things from a completely different perspective. I have a much better understanding of what government does and why, public record laws, and what police officers and firefighters deal with on a routine basis.

This job has made me pay closer attention to everything happening around me and want to ask more questions, especially in my hometown.

Even though we ask a lot of questions on readers’ behalf, I encourage you to ask your own. Do not be afraid to ask your city, school, and county leaders to answer more questions because you are most likely not the only one seeking answers.

From the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik