I’ve often wondered how I ended up spending nearly two decades reporting local news. When I started out, I always thought I’d be covering national and international events. It’s not that I’m trying to over-inflate my skill set, but it truly is my background. I was born overseas (in Turkey) and even though we moved back stateside within six weeks, my parents moved our family to Saudi Arabia in my teens. From then on, I started to travel and even studied in England for five years. So, logically, I expected when I chose a career in the News, that I’d be covering what I know: news from around the world.
Life works in ways we don’t always comprehend, but later learn to appreciate. As a mother of two boys, I now consider myself lucky not to be sent off to far-flung parts of the world or to cover natural disasters from coast to coast and around the globe. I have watched friends do that and put their own safety on the line again and again. One is Jennifer Griffin, National Security Correspondent at Fox News. She and her husband, Greg Myre (a reporter for the New York Times) lived in Israel while raising their young family. I watched and worried when she was sent to cover the aftermath of one violent scene after another. When they finally moved back to Washington D.C., I was relieved they were “safe”. (Little did I know her hardest days were yet to come. Jennifer’s since fought and won a battle against Triple Negative breast cancer). Through all this she and her husband collaborated on a book about their lives in Israel. “This Burning Land” is about to be released. Oh, and Jennifer’s back to reporting in dangerous places again.
My fate has clearly been to follow a far different path. However, I now cherish it. When I watched the scenes of Egyptians celebrating in Anaheim’s “Little Arabia”, I was reminded of standing on the streets of Dearborn, Michigan during the initial days of the Iraq War. I remember the flags flying and the cheers and shouts as the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down. So much jubilation and joy and so little foreshadowing of the hard realities that lay ahead.
I did stories with Iraqis who’d lived in the States since they were children. They were eager to return and rebuild their homeland – only this time under a democratic government. I have often wondered what happened to them, and their dreams. It is that experience that gave me perspective on what still lies ahead for Egyptians, who are still celebrating in the streets as I write. I wondered aloud today in an interview with a local transplant who has family in Egypt if those celebrating in Sacramento also feel the conflict of rejoicing and realism.
When talk turns to what country could “fall” next, and experts mention places like Morocco and Saudi Arabia, I have my personal experience to use as a lens. Having lived in Saudi and seen firsthand the power of oil money to tamp down dissension, I have doubts we’ll see anything spark there soon. However, knowing how everyday Moroccans scrape together a living and having driven past the plush palace where the ruling family lives, I have to wonder if the more “open” style of ruling the young King there has embraced is enough to stop the rumblings of revolution.
So, I have found a way to blend my worlds – a past of international travel and a present life in Sacramento. While not all of my observations can be expressed in a newscast, they come through in my work behind the scenes…making sure we cover stories like the build-up to today’s crescendo in Cairo. I’m also thankful I can share my perspective in a forum like this; I’ve embraced the blog as my place to tell “the story behind the story”. In the end, I also feel that getting to know different communities within my own country has provided me an even richer cultural experience. As I continue to learn and grow and synthesize my past and present, I try every way I know to share what I can, inform when I can and whenever possible find ways to allow the news to educate and inspire.