Week Four At WNDU

It’s no surprise when I go home my mom gets undoubtedly annoyed hearing my complaints about being bored.

“Can’t you just enjoy sitting around for once?” she always asks me; but I can’t and that’s what so great about reporting. There’s always something to do, new people to meet, new things to learn, and every day’s assignment is unexpected. And in my fourth week at my internship, it was no different than described above.

This past Monday I pitched a story at the morning meeting about a man who had been arrested on Sunday for allegedly raping a 15-year-old runaway girl. The story goes way beyond just that though. Apparently the 15-year-old had accepted an offer from this 34-year-old woman "Amanda” who she had met at a bus stop. The woman had told her if she ever wanted to run away she could stay with her. But not too soon after she met her, “Amanda” would take the 15-year-old to different homes, leave her there for a couple of days, and force her to have sex with men. Finally this past Sunday the girl called home and told her mother she wanted to come home. When the police picked her up from one of the homes Amanda had driven her to, they arrested a man there who had forced the 15-year-old to have sex with him. The police also arrested another man in connection with the girl and child pornography. Making the case even more shocking, the 15-year-old claimed “Amanda” starved her and she would go days without food. After pitching the story I asked if I could go out with the reporter on it.

After receiving information from the police on where this house was we headed over there. Stories like these can sometimes feel strange at first. You never know if someone is going to be willing to talk or not. Luckily for us we approached a woman a few doors down from where the incident had happened who was more than willing to speak her mind. She was sitting on the porch with one of the neighborhood children talking to people as they walked by. As we got to know her it became clear she was like the neighborhood grandmother who watched over all the neighborhood children. She happened to know the people who lived in the home where the 15-year-old had been taken to. She gave us a unique look into what type of people they were, saying they occasionally came to cut her grass and help with her plants. The crime they had committed seemed “very scary” to her.

Next we headed to the police department to talk with an officer who gave us all the facts we needed to complete the story. This was a gruesome crime that churned our stomachs, but the officer stated it clearly: "it shows you what can happen with in your community. This is not...human trafficking is not something that happens internationally alone, it can happen in a 10 mile radius of an individuals home, and I think that's what we have here, we clearly have a minor that's being trafficked around the area."

Click here to read Runaway teen held captive and raped

On Tuesday morning I was asked to go out on a vosot in SB. Four police officers in St. Joseph County and the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team were being honored for their efforts in keeping drunk drivers off the roads. For all the bad news we must cover, it makes me really appreciate things like this. The week of July 4 is the deadliest in terms of deaths related to drunk driving so it was no coincidence why they were holding this ceremony at this time. These four officers were the top in catching impaired drivers.

Click here to read Recognition ceremony held Tuesday for DUI Task Force

When I got back to the station I headed out with a photog and a reporter who wanted to do a story about new Elkhart businesses. This happened to be on of those stories where everything wasn’t quite falling into place. The owner of the new business the reporter wanted to talk to was out of town and all other sources weren’t answering their phones.

As one reporter told me, a million things can go wrong in your day, but by deadline you are always expected to turn a story. The key source in your story may not want to talk to you, but you must find someone to talk. Your camera could break while your out, or the battery could go dead, but you are still expected to have video for your story. Your computer could crash while you’re editing your story, but no matter what you are still expected to have your story done by show time.

After heading to Elkhart to see what we could find, the planning and economic city director gave the reporter a call and agreed to do an interview. We ran to meet up with a Elkhart police officer to do a quick vosot on a man who had been found shot to dead in an alleyway the night before and then went to meet with the director.

The city’s planning and economic director also hooked us up with our next source, making our story complete. A man was just starting up his business in Elkhart. Bruzer is making non-lethal guns for officers to use when they don’t necessarily need to use lethal force.

Although everything wasn’t quite falling into place at first, I learned you just have to keep trying no matter what. At the end of the day, if you’ve tried hard enough, you should be able to turn out something good.

Click here to read Elkhart businesses are hiring and diversifying

The next two days were fairly simple as well.

On Wednesday one of the photogs and I attended a meeting where the Niles City Council was meeting to hear proposals from two companies who were looking to restore or rebuild an old dam in the town.

Although I was only expected to write a vosot on this, I know as a reporter it is important to know how to cover meetings. So as I sat and listened to the two companies speak, I treated the story as if it were going to be turned into a package. I definitely felt more confident in how I would have sorted the information if I were writing a full package on it than I would have if it were the beginning of the summer. Thus I know I must be improving!

Once back at the station, I wrote the vosot, edited it and wrote the web story.

Click here to read Niles City Council looks to restore or rebuild old dam

Another meeting day on Thursday, except this time it was a group of animal lovers who are trying to get the counties animal control officer ousted because he allegedly has been abusing the animals.

Stories like these can be tough sometimes… when you only have the she said he said aspect of it, so taking the facts and basing your story around them is extremely important.

By the time we got back to the station, it was pretty late. And what does this mean? Crunch time! It seems to happen a lot… but once again, stress is something a reporter must be able to handle. When it comes to show time you are expected to act calm and collected… No matter how your day turned out…

Click here to read Allegations of animal abuse in Kosciusko County


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