On the SEPTA strike beat. Again.


A rundown from CBS This Morning on Nov. 1, 2016. (Red is a bad thing.)

When I saw the news early Tuesday morning of the SEPTA strike in Philadelphia, I had a flashback to 11 years ago.

I was a cub reporter for The Temple News. I’d written two articles (poorly) for the paper so far, and then one of SEPTA’s unions decided to strike. It was a Monday. And my news editor asked me to go get reaction to the strike from Temple students stranded with no transportation.

So that’s just what I did. I spoke to several students waiting for emergency Temple shuttles that never seemed to arrive. And frustration was rampant.

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I felt the earth move: Covering a historic natural disaster

Aug. 23, 2011. Five years ago, I was eating a snack in my car in the parking lot of the Charlottesville Harris Teeter when I felt a small rumble. I looked at the older woman in the parking spot across from me, and she appeared to have no reaction.

I looked across the street and saw the window panels on a building shake.

Did I just feel an earthquake? Nah. It’s Central Virginia. Psh.

I opened up Twitter and saw lots of locals questioning what just happened. And I shared my thoughts.

Then I got a text from a friend.

“Are you alive?”

That followed a text from my brother.

“Are you near that earthquake?”

Apparently, yes. Yes I was.

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My day is your night: Working overnights

I have the perfect icebreaker in my back pocket. It’s always guaranteed to be a conversation starter, and the conversation can thrive for several minutes. It typically goes something like this:

Stranger: “What do you do?”

Me: “I’m a news writer for a morning show.”

Stranger: “Oh, you must go into work pretty early.”

Me: “Yeah, I work overnights.”

Stranger: “What time do you go in?”

Me: “2 a.m.”

What follows is some combination of a dropped jaw, a gasp, an expletive or bulging eyes. Hook, line and sinker.

But let’s talk about the reality of working overnights.

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‘F*** It, I Quit’: Stop the Spread of the Viral Video

quitting reporter

A blurred screenshot of said reporter committing said act on live television. It looks better this way.

You’ve probably seen the video. A dramatic local news reporter who quit her job on air by dropping the theoretical microphone (aka the F-bomb) on live TV.

Some people are calling it funny and badass. I’m calling it unethical and disrespectful.

I’m not posting the video. Or her (fake TV) name. Or her pro-marijuana “business.” She doesn’t deserve that kind of exposure, not because of the cause, but because of the way she presented it.

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Trial Circumstances: Covering the Randy Taylor Murder Trial


On May 1, the murder trial began for Randy Taylor, the man charged in the abduction and murder of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy in Nelson County, Va.

My station decided to have many reporters cover this trial, since many people had a role in covering this story since Alexis’ disappearance in August 2013. Alexis is still missing, and there’s no evidence of her death, but prosecutors chose to proceed with a murder charge in a completely circumstantial case.

I covered Days 4 and 5 of this trial. I’ve learned in covering a number of court cases that every judge runs the court differently. Here, as has become a trend in Central Virginia, phones need to be turned off in the courtroom. The judge would not allow anyone to leave the courtroom unless there was a break. He would not allow anyone to enter the courtroom until there was a break. It was a tight ship, and in television news, that’s not convenient.

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‘More Than’ Disappointed: Rant of AP Style Changes

associated press stylebookThe Associated Press Stylebook is basically my Bible.

Now, however, I feel as if I’m led astray.

Last week, the folks at the AP made a drastic change. I don’t use the term “drastic” loosely when I talk about style.

The AP has decided that “over” is an acceptable substitute for “more than” when talking about numbers.

I had to read about the change more than 10 times before the magnitude of such a change sunk in. (See what I did there?)

Such a concept has been a core of the AP Stylebook for decades, one that I learned as a journalism student and one that I implemented as a college newspaper editor. And it’s a rule I’ve continued to – and will continue to – use professionally (and personally – whom am I kidding?).

Sure, I may have allowed the misspelling of the word “commitment” on the front page of some 10,000 copies of The Temple News. But I swear you never saw an “over” where a “more than” should have been.

We all make mistakes.

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Reporters’ Guide to Twitter, or #HowTwitterShouldBeUsed

A screen capture of my Twitter timeline.

A screen capture of my Twitter timeline.

It’s so hard to cram so much into 140 characters.

I have several categories of tweets I send. My main requirement is that I must find what I type interesting – the thought process being that I can make something interesting to someone else.

Sometimes, that entails retweeting the governor of Virginia. Sometimes, that entails retweeting Wawa. Because I love Wawa.

My tweeting categories range from work-related tweets to Charlottesville happenings to hometown pride to “just for fun.” A number of my followers rely on my Twitter account to know about what’s in the news (recently, I tweeted updates from the scene of a plane crash in Albemarle County). But not all my tweets are Charlottesville-specific, as not all of my followers are specific to Charlottesville.

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