Learning to look at a situation from many different perspectives
A refection on my first career as a journalist
by Representative Wojcicki Jimenez
I’ll never forget the first day I really felt like it was my responsibility and my duty to get to work.
The date was September 11, 2001. I was still in college, working at my college radio station, but also interning for a television station in St. Louis. I was driving to the cell phone store for some reason and the radio station that normally played my jams sounded like the news. I changed the station. Same thing. Again. Same thing. I listened and heard the reports about the plane hitting the first tower of the World Trade Center in New York. I knew, even though I was an intern, I needed to get to work right away to see how I could help the reporters in any way that I could. People were very scared. I was scared. Many were very nervous about other large cities around the country, like St. Louis. I went in to work–didn’t play a major role–but knew right there and then–in moments like those–why the media was so important.
After college, I had the pleasure to work in several different cities in Illinois. When working for KHQA in Quincy, I’ll never forget when I covered the flooding in Meredosia. Talking with residents who were close to losing their homes and to officials who were trying to keep them safe.
In Champaign, we managed to figure out every angle we could and every story possible that could be associated with a U of I ballgame.
In St. Louis while working for the Cards Crew kids show on Fox Sports Midwest, I was able to talk with and interview fans and some of the best players to play the game.
When I was able to come back to my hometown of Springfield and work for the station I grew up watching, I was absolutely thrilled. I also felt a tremendous amount of pressure because I knew that the many of the people watching me here knew me since I was a little girl. They were my teachers, classmates, friends and family.
As a journalist, you get the unique perspective and opportunities to go into people’s homes, businesses and lives and tell their stories.
As a reporter in Springfield, I was able to cover some historic events like the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum and a presidential announcement.
I was able to participate in a segment where I traded jobs with folks in my hometown which included working at the Mel-O-Cream factory, hauling garbage, driving a train, steering a combine, conducting the symphony, and picking up roadkill.
In 2006, two tornadoes hit Springfield. This was a night that people here will never forget. I worked alongside some very dedicated journalists and community leaders to deliver the news that night. I saw parts of our town ripped apart and followed all of the efforts to put it back together. The emotions were raw, but the ability to overcome was great.
The most difficult stories I ever covered were during the height of the wars when I would visit with a family of soldier who died in the line of duty. To this day, I will never forget the strength and patriotism of these families when their loved one had given the ultimate sacrifice. To this day, at almost any event where the Star Spangled Banner is played, I have tears in my eyes as I recall visiting with these local families whose lives will never be the same due to the sacrifice for our country.
As a journalist, you meet the good, the bad and the ugly, but you are trained to tell the story from an objective perspective. What you learn is that there are not always two sides to every story, there are many. You learn that there is almost always a bright side. You learn that most people have good intentions, but sometimes make mistakes.
I ended up leaving my chosen career path of journalism, because I had the opportunity to serve elected and top officials within state government. I had grown tired of just covering the story and not acting on it. I am now in a position to serve the residents in my hometown & county in a new way as the representative in the 99th district. I am honored by the opportunity, but know the weight of the responsibility. I plan to approach my new job as I’ve done all of my career, with an inquisitive mind, pursuit of of the truth and demand the best answers and outcomes for our communities.