Always curious about the life of a journalist, I decided to do a “ride-along” with a well-known female television reporter. PS Garrett is a well-respected beat reporter for her station which is second in the ratings. I was intrigued by her unusual first name, PS, and hoped to discover its origin.
It was a warm February night on my first “ride-along” with Ms. Garrett. She parked her vehicle discreetly a short distance away from prying eyes at the crime scene. The feel of doom and gloom permeated the air at a suburban gas station where a double homicide occurred. Police officers, as well as reporters from competing stations, were milling around. Ms. Garrett entered her station’s satellite truck already parked at the scene.
I was mesmerized by the technician in the truck working feverishly to correct some technical difficulty. News had to be gathered quickly because they were on a tight deadline.
I paid close attention to Ms. Garrett’s conversation with the police chief as she tried to illicit details of the crime. Her gentle questioning of several locals at the scene helped obtain information about the two teenaged murder victims. Rather than take out a notebook, she committed the information to memory so as not to spook the townspeople.
Garrett — the only reporter from her station on the scene, and the photographer who joined her –worried about meeting the nightly news deadline with enough information to compete with the other stations.
Without crossing the yellow crime scene tape, Barrett saw something the other reporters missed. That disturbing detail sent shivers up my spine. The detail, reluctantly confirmed by the police chief, couldn’t be revealed to avoid alerting the murderer.
I wondered how she could possibly keep the detail from getting out. Would Ms. Garrett keep her job if her boss knew she squelched vital information on the case? She knew the police chief would owe her big time for keeping mum.
Already well past 10 PM, she spent a few minutes writing the story. The on-air broadcaster was hostile and angry that the story was coming in so late leaving precious little time for editing. Garrett readied herself for her live shot just as the antiquated equipment failed again. She prepared go live without an edited script and no story on tape.
Just then, my doorbell rang. Darn. Company. I’ll have to put down this riveting book, Deadline! Book One by Paula Tutman, and answer the door. I hope my company doesn’t stay too long. Can’t wait to get back to the book. Care to join me?