When the initial excitement about having my stories published in the Post-Gazette was gone, I decided to distance myself from writing and focus on photo and video production.
I went to the multimedia department and asked the editors to allow me to practice the techniques I learned at the Missouri School of Journalism. I started following the photographers and cameramen, observing their work and carrying their lighting equipment.
The photographers told me to come and watch them work during Sunday’s marathon, where about 25,000 people would be running along the streets of Pittsburgh.
But when the news editor found out that I was planning to attend the marathon, he asked me to go ahead and cover the event. He wanted me to gather information for several short stories about funny, odd or exciting runners and onlookers.
I said I’ve never covered anything like this and I was afraid I could screw it up. But with half a dozen other reporters also attending, my editor reassured me it would be really hard to screw it up.
Then I found out that the coverage of the neighborhood where I live was given to another reporter and I was assigned to a different area. This neighborhood was seven miles away from my house, and the bus was canceled to this area on that day because of the marathon. So, the only option for me was to take a bicycle that one of my colleagues nicely lent me.
On Sunday morning, after getting up at 5 a.m., I made my trip. It would have been a very nice ride if Pittsburgh wasn’t so hilly. If the early morning wasn’t so chilly. If the roads hadn’t been so cracked and holey from the winter.
South Side, a neighborhood of all-night parties where I had to do my coverage, was sleepy and empty at 7 a.m. I had no idea whom I could interview.
I walked for about a mile to find a more crowded place near a subway station. I spotted a little boy in a crowd, who was sitting on a sidewalk and writing on a poster “Mom is No 1.” His uncle told me the boy was writing a message for his mother and his aunt, who were running their marathon this year.
I thought it could be a story, so I spoke to boy’s uncle, the boy’s father, and the boy himself. They all were waiting for their wives and mothers, who could pass by at any moment. I had to wait as well.
When I was thinking that the women will never come, they suddenly appeared among the other runners, and jumped to their family members to hug and kiss them all.
I realized after I left that I had forgotten to ask the boy’s last name. I hurried back and the family patiently answered my questions, for the fifth time, perhaps.
I filed my initial contribution to this article from a tablet at a Starbuck’s cafe, writing it in a hurry for the web. The editor thanked me, saying that it was exactly what they needed. After filing two more pieces with a feeling of satisfaction and sleepiness, I started pedaling back home uphill.
On the next day, I surprisingly discovered that two out of three my pieces made it to the front page, so it was worth all the hard work and biking.