Yesterday was going to be the start of something great.
I'd pounded the pavement for a year looking for a job in journalism and finally got a break in the form of a meeting set up with Jim Poyser at NUVO at 11 a.m. My big break into the Indy newspaper industry might actually happen.
I arrived at my meeting earlier than expected because of good traffic conditions, but Jim was nice enough to see me just a few minutes after I arrived.
I had the usual nerves about discussing my future, where I want to be in life, what I can bring to NUVO. While discussing this, he brings in Rebecca Townsend, news editor, to tell me about a protest taking place that night that I could cover if I was free.
I had a meeting with a newspaper and assigned an article all in the same day? It was essentially my audition to show the editors if I had the chops.
This particular rally was taking place at Wishard Memorial Hospital to inform the public of security officers' lack of health insurance, even as they worked to ensure the wellbeing of others.
Townsend provided a Wishard media relations contact and asked that I call him to make sure I understood the situation from the hospital's perspective. At 3 p.m., I call the contact, Todd Harper. He's not aware of any protest taking place so he has no information to give me. I end up forwarding him the press release I received, and with that, his promised he would call back once he knew more.
There was no call, and I was running out of time so I decided to head to the rally.
When walking up to the front entrance of Wishard, I see a small crowd gathered and decide to ask around to see if this was the group I was looking for. I was sent around from person to person, the next person knowing a little more than the last until I reach Leslie Mendoza Kamstra, communications director at SEIU. She asks me what I'm writing about and tells me more about the rally and what they hope to achieve. At this point, it's just basics so I don't feel the need to record; I plan to interview her later after I see more of the rally.
I was waiting with the crowd as they waited for more people to show up before beginning, most likely changing settings on my camera since the few shots I was able to take weren't of the greatest quality.
That's when my day changed.
A police officer walked up and asked for the person who worked for NUVO. Once I realized that it was me he was looking for, and someone pointed to me, I knew I'd have some explaining to do. He came over, and double-checked I was a NUVO reporter, and then told me to leave the premises because I wasn't allowed on hospital property. I told him I was just here to cover the protest and that I had spoken to Mr. Harper earlier in the day. He said I couldn't be there without clearance from media relations.
I begin to panic. This is my first piece for NUVO, and I'm being shut down before I can even start.
I try finding a cell phone number for Mr. Harper. I only have his work number. I try to find cell phone numbers for my editors, but in my interview nervousness that morning, I forgot to ask for more than their work numbers.Last resort, I call a roommate to try and Google some cell phone numbers since the most I can use my cell phone for is my alarm clock in the morning.
I'm stuck. I'm frustrated by lack of understanding of the situation. How are my rights and boundaries here connected to public and private property? How far can I take this?
I decide to make one last stand.I head into the hospital to talk to someone at Information about contacting someone in the media relations sector so I can explain my situation and get the clearance I need.
The lady sitting at the desk informs me she can't do anything, but security can. Another frustration added. I had already spoken to them, but in a hopeful last push, I took the phone to talk to a security officer.
Same answer but more polite.
I was spent. I felt pushed around and out of options so my next decision was one of desperation: I left.
After so much time and effort researching this story, so much running around to be able to do my job, I gave up. I should have stood my ground.
Those security guards deserve to have their concerns heard, but the hospital shut me out. I gave them the first chance to speak, and they gave me the first kick out the door.
What I learned later from others at the scene was that there were other reporters at the rally, while I was the only one singled out. I thought I was the lone wolf in the rally crowd that was reporting the protestors' night; I was kicked out because they didn't want any publicity of this situation. It wasn't that I was the press, as I had originally thought, it was that I was a part of NUVO.
They abused my trepidation, but I learn from my mistakes. This didn't break me down, it brought me up. Now I know to listen to my gut.
I should have stood my ground, let them escort me away or arrest me. I didn't go with my gut, and I paid for it in the ability to tell the story.