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"You only live once.  If you do it right, once is enough."

I'm leaving the broadcast business.

I have lived and loved the journalism industry at a very interesting time.  I've covered hurricanes and homicides, happiness and hatred.  You invited me into your homes via your television and your computer.  Thank you.
I have some fantastic stories that never made it on air, and some even better stories of the people with whom I've worked.  I regret not telling all those stories.  

This business is a fickle one.  I have seen very good people fail in this profession, and I have seen people with minimal talent and work ethic rise to the top.  I am proud to say I never compromised my integrity for my career, but I have given up on a lot of things: sleep, privacy, and too often, my family.  

I have a new job lined up, one which puts me in rush hour traffic, cubicles, and meetings.  It will not be an easy adjustment.  But this new job also allows me to eat dinner with my husband, spend holidays with my family, and read the newspaper because I want to - not because I was scooped.  

In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm giving up on my dream.  But sometimes your dream evolves, just like your life.  I've pursued my passion for storytelling for 10 years.  And in a way, I'll continue to do so.  

But it's time I pursued another passion.  I encourage you to do the same -- whatever you do in life, follow your passion.  You only live once -- make sure once is all you need. 

 
 
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Every one of us make some mistake every day.  For some of us, it's sending an email to the wrong Rebecca.  (Yup, had that happen.)  Perhaps it's taking the wrong turn in downtown.  (Yup.)  Or, it's running over the solar light staked deep into the soil lining your driveway.  (Yup, and don't ask.)

Thankfully, typos are mostly preventable. Microsoft Word is prevalent on computers these days. Though, if you use the wrong word ("your" vs. "you're"), Word may not catch it all.

In television, we have several computer programs to help get a newscast on the air.  One program  helps us "build graphics" -- in other words, make a map, or show a picture from an accident scene, or display a suspect's mug shot. In my experience, these graphic building programs do not have Word.  Additionally, you usually build these graphics while you're still writing your story, making follow up calls, monitoring Twitter, listening to scanners, watching the competition, and still trying to finish your lunch.  (In news, it's almost like we are trained to be ADD, but that's another post.)

On one particularly memorable instance, I was working at KWCH on a story about Gov. Parkinson's proposals for higher education.  (Or maybe it was a Wichita School District Story.  The context surrounding the story is foggy.)  Whatever the case, I was doing all of the above things.  And I also have a history of being a grammar geek.  So imagine my chagrin when my story aired that night, and in the middle of my graphic with the word "universtiy".  On an education story, I committed the ultimate blunder.

On your computer screen, it may look funny.  On a 60" TV screen in your living room, it looks careless and unprofessional.  That typo reflects the credibility of myself, my fellow employees, my employer, 
and my profession as a whole.  In that one slip of the fingers, our credibility was shot. To add insult to injury, a coworker of mine made the same mistake the following day.

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Thanks, Grammarly.
I admit, I was the EM Holt Elementary Geography Bee Champion, never the Spelling Bee Champion, but I know things ought to be spelled correctly. Which is why the constant barrage of txt speak (see graphic at right) annoys me greatly.  
I enjoy the English language.  I relish correct sentence structure.  I seek strong verbs to convey my communications.  

I tutor local high school students, and it breaks my heart to see them write purposeful typos --  "b4" on the board, instead of spending time on three more consonants and two vowels.  I take off points every time I see it on their paperwork, and I openly ridicule their usage of poor grammar in class.  My Facebook friends make me cringe.  If I see poor grammar on my Newsfeed, I hide the offender. (I have hundreds of convicted grammar violators thus far.)  

Several years ago, NPR ran a story about the questionable end of the English Language, at the hands of rising txt speak.  It compared txting to the telegraph; people thought the telegraph would be the death knell of English.  As we now know, it wasn't.  Perhaps the rising tide of socially accepted typos won't kill English either.  I certainly don't want to write an epitaph to the English Language.  (But, I guess, if it had to fit on a headstone, texting would be the way to to it.)

I understand typos happen.  I understand they happen at inopportune times.  I do not understand why they are now allowed, even accepted, by society.  But, I guess that's why we have places like Grammarly.

 
 
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The Gannon Family Farm in upstate New York.
I never really got into blogging before making this website.  Well, I did, for about three days in college, and then some hot date or ten page paper got in the way.  I've thought long and hard about what my first entry ought to be, and frankly, I didn't want it to be a downer.  But most news -- these days -- is just that.

So instead, I shall make this an opportunity to gloat about myself, my accomplishments, and why on Earth I find myself so all-important I need to make a blog about me.  

I'm no one special, and I mean that. I'm the product of two farm kids, much like many of my cousins.  My parents worked hard every day, digging ditches, putting up fences, gathering eggs, and trying to cajole an unforgiving land into yielding its treasure every day.  

My mother was raised in Western Kansas, the daughter of a man who survived the Dust Bowl. Grandfather is now gone, but his sisters, and stories, remain.  My mother was one of 8; none of them stayed in Ness County.  Mom was the second oldest, often looking after the younger kids, tending the chickens for eggs, and weeding the garden, and doing anything that kept her occupied on that tract of soil.  She worked hard in school, went to college, and upon graduation, moved to California.  She taught me how to hang laundry on a clothesline, make bread, make the best of a situation, and always look for opportunities.

My father always lived in the Northeast.  He was the oldest of four and, the way he tells it, did most of the manual labor on the family farm.  He'd get out of school on a Friday afternoon, drive all night to the farm, fix fences and tractors, cut hay and wood, and then drive back home with his father Sunday night, doing homework when he could.  He lettered in three high school sports, attended the Naval Academy, and forced me to change a tire 6 months before I could drive.  From him, I learned self-reliance, determination, and an appreciation for manual transmissions (and manual labor).

I moved around a lot with my father's job; I blame him for my affinity to constant change.  I was born in Western Kansas, lived in California and upstate New York, and by the age of three, resided in Puerto Rico.  Those are my first memories, and I attribute that to my fondness for tropical fronds and temperatures.  We moved to North Carolina when I was eight, and that remains the place I lived in the longest.  At the rebellious age of 16, we moved to oh-so-apropos Defiance, Missouri.  I graduated from Mizzou in 2004 (with two degrees and three part-time jobs, all in four years), and took a job on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  In 2006, sick of wasting vacation days in airports, I moved back to the Midwest to be closer to my family.  In 2009, I married my college sweetheart.  December 2010 through June 2011 were banner times for family deaths -- 5 in 7 months (his grandmother, his aunt, my uncle, my grandfather, and my grandmother).  By July 2011, he had a new job, and we moved to Kansas City.  Which is where I sit typing this long, drawn-out, rambling soliloquy for some insomniac or bored cubicle inhabitant to stumble upon; hope it entertained you.

Now that formalities are behind us, I hope to use the rest of this blog to enlighten, enrich, and possibly enliven your understanding of what really happens in the news business.  Or, at least, give you an understanding for my experience in the news business. 

 

    Rebecca Gannon

    Time, prudence, or something may prevent some things from becoming broadcast.  I like to thank the Journalism Gods for that.  Here are (some of) my thoughts and observances that never made air.

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