This profile originally appeared in The Cohort, Poynter’s bi-monthly newsletter about women kicking ass in digital media.
It’s no secret that journalism is moving at a faster pace. And that’s especially so for those covering breaking news. They’re having to work quicker and quicker to get content up online, on social media, produce video, and often have to talk to people on one of the most difficult days of their lives. It’s not something to be taken lightly.
That’s why I wanted to talk to Janet Brindle Reddick, the breaking news editor at the Orlando Sentinel, who, on her first week on the job, had to cover the back-to-back events of the shooting of singer Christina Grimmie, the massacre at the Pulse nightclub, and the killing of a small child by a Disney alligator.
We talked on the phone in-between breaking news events about why she loves her job and how she keeps herself, and her team, sane. Janet’s answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What were you doing before coming to the Sentinel?
I was working for AAA for a while as a writer in their travel department. It was great! I had holidays off. Weekends! But it was a different pace than I was used to. They gave me a deadline for a project of four weeks and I was done in four days. And I was like gahhhh now what do I do?
What was it like when you came back?
I really loved the people there but I slowly realized that this is where I belong. I was in my first week at the Orlando Sentinel and I was learning the new computer systems and people’s names [when the shooting of Christina Grimmie happened]. Everything I had learned before kicked in.
It was like riding a bike. You just know what to do. To everyone else looking at these breaking news events, it may just be another shooting, but each one has a face behind it. The families you talk to don’t care that it is just another shooting. They care because it’s someone they know. We try to give a voice and a face to each event.
How do you approach self-care — both for yourself and your team?
Our cops quad are the weird people in the newsroom. Last week we had a 4 p.m. dance party. We just got up and had an Irish gig for a few minutes. In the middle of covering Pulse, I bought PlayDoh for the newsroom.
At some point I bought bubbles for the team. People who read this outside a newsroom will think we are weird, but this is a safe space. We can say things to each other here that we wouldn’t say elsewhere. It’s okay to laugh at things here that you wouldn’t do otherwise.
Meghann Farnsworth is an engagement editor for Recode.