Jewish Book Council “Meet the Author”

Jewish Book Council “Meet the Author”

This speech was delivered at the Jewish Book Council “Meet the Author” event on May 25, 2022:
As a TV news reporter at NBC in New York, I meet people on the best and worst days of their lives. I ring their doorbells, sit in their living rooms, ask them personal questions on camera, say goodbye when I realize my deadline is approaching, and likely never see them again.

After more than twenty years of repeating this cycle, I decided it was time to go back. Return to the families who had welcomed me into their homes during traumatic times, revisit the people at the center of major news events, and investigate what happened after our live truck pulled away from the scene.

More After the Break offers a “behind the scenes” look at TV news reporting. How do we manage to get those interviews that you watch on the news or see on your Twitter feed? It also offers ten stories of inspiration and hope, accounts of how people who have suffered have emerged triumphant. This is *not* a book about politics or so called “fake news.” This *is* a book about people, about the connections we local news reporters form in our communities, and about the strength and resilience of the people we cover.

As an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, I was prompted by my students to direct the same tough ethical questions to myself that I had been asking them: why do we still knock on grieving families’ doors when we could find most of what we are looking for on social media? How can we help a person who has lost everything in a natural disaster? And as a wife and mother, how can I cover so much tragedy without sacrificing a part of my own mental health?

Several years ago during High Holy Day services, I was thinking about people to whom I owed an apology, people whose forgiveness I desired before starting the New Year. I have made mistakes at work, times when I could have treated people with more kindness and respect. Those tough conversations are featured in my book as well, and I hope that my unflinching account prompts complicated and interesting conversations among readers like you.

TV news reporting is not a glamorous job, which you will appreciate when you read my chapter about covering hurricanes and desperately searching for suitable restrooms. But it is an important job, even a “noble” job as some reviewers have written. I look forward to sharing these ten wonderful stories with you, and I hope that the people featured in them will enrich your lives in the same way they have brightened mine. Thank you.