Every reporter – at some point or other – ends up writing about someone they know.
It doesn’t matter if you cover a small town or a big city, if you work in the town where you grew up or in a town thousands of miles away from home... Sooner or later, someone you know will be the subject of a story, and you will be the only one around to write it.
E.J. was an eager man in his early 30s who came to the paper a few months after I had started working there. He used to be involved with the weekend section many years ago, he said, when it was big and colorful and when reporters and photographers actually covered rock concerts and area shows on a regular basis.
Our editor let E.J. come back to help out once a week with club listings and a column about local bands and upcoming entertainment-related events.
It was great help for me, and E.J. was fun to be around. He came in for a few hours, did his thing and then left.
A few months later, E.J. fell off the face of the earth. He had an accident at a construction site where he was working, and he never came back to us after that. Rumors said E.J. was using drugs to relieve his pain. I called his cell phone; his number had been disconnected.
Every so often, we would hear brief updates from our court reporter, T.
“E.J. was in court today,” she would say, or “E.J. is in trouble again.”
E.J.’s mom supposedly filed complaints against him after he allegedly stole thousands of dollars from her to support his habit.
Last night, I called reporter D. while he was at the local police station to ask him to look something up.
“Eh… Viktoria?” he said, cautiously. “There was a big drug bust Friday night.”
“Great!” I said. “Give me some information so I can throw it up on our web site.”
He gave me the name, age and charges. It was E.J.