|Front row of the "scrum"|
It is always last minute, the call to book a piece for the network morning show. Never mind that the girls are upstairs in their jammies, asking for juice or crayons. I find a quiet place for a conference call with producers in New York and Los Angeles, who give me the details of my assignment.
This time, my assignment came right after a verdict was announced in the trial of the man who kidnapped and abused Elizabeth Smart. It was my job to hit all of the press conferences, identify compelling and key characters, and get them on the show -- then, follow up by managing the live shot the next morning. The network wanted the US Prosecuting Attorney, and I got them the jury foreman as well. I also negotiated with Ed Smart and the other networks to get him to New York for a live appearance.
I've always felt among news professionals, I've safely guarded a level of humanity and sensitivity that is easily chipped away as we cover so many horrific stories. Some of my colleagues have become sort of numb, similar to emergency personnel that see the same plane crashes and shootings we cover. It is understandable. Besides, we're supposed to remain neutral.
But this, this is a story of victory. A story of a young woman courageously surviving beyond a dark horror. A real life tale of strength.
Of all the women who endured what she did, most would be destroyed forever, and the rest, you'd hope, might turn out "okay." But as far as I can tell, Elizabeth is brilliant. She is bright, lovely and smart. She is not defeated, not destroyed. In the scrum of reporters, I stood mere feet from her as she made a statement outside the federal courthouse. Of course, I was there to do my job. Still, I also felt personally moved by her power, and inspired by the bright noble strength inherent in girls and women who truly know who they are.
"I'm so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims who have not spoken out about what's happened to them. I hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened."