This is why I do it

EDITOR’S NOTE: So, I’m messing with my blog today and I see my “About Me” category is empty and I think, Shit. And I bang out a couple of graphs, press “publish” and notice I’ve already written an introduction of sorts. Oh well…

I’m a journalist. I ask questions.

I wasn’t the kid who always dreamed of being a journalist. I sort of stumbled into journalism because of a really cool professor who thought I had talent. But I’ve stayed in journalism because of Lupe, a West Texas widow who sought a 21-gun salute for her war-decorated husband. After the initial story, a reenactment group contacted me and I put them in touch with Lupe. A week later with gunsmoke still hanging in the air, I walked across the cemetery with my reporter pad and asked Lupe the dumbest question, “What does this 21-gun salute mean to you?”

A big crockadile tear spilled from her eye and her lip quivered as she choked out, “Thank you.” And then Lupe embraced me and cried.

I learned two very important things that day. First, there really are no dumb questions because it’s not about the question. It’s about the answer. And the second thing I learned was that my stories can make a difference. That was 2001, and I have never looked back.

I’ve won plenty of awards and accolades for my work over the years. But the greatest thrill for me is still listening to people’s stories and seeing my byline in print.

Cockroaches, reporters & me

I guess I should introduce myself.

Hi. I’m Nicole Brambila. I’m a journalist. As in the currently employed kind. Plenty of us aren’t – nearly 39,000 since 2008, according to the Paper Cuts blog. Those of us left working are kind of like the cockroaches expected to survive a nuclear attack. I’m rather fond of the way New York Times columnist David Carr has put it: “You are tenacious motherfuckers. You have proven you cannot be killed.”

Most days I don’t feel very tenacious. But how often do you get called a tenacious motherfucker? A plain motherfucker, yes. But a tenacious one? Not so much.

I got in the business more than a decade ago on a fluke, but I’ve stayed because of the stories.

There’s a pecking order and politics in most every office. And that means I’m not always working on the sexiest stuff. But the really cool thing is nobody knows that outside the newsroom. Saying I’m a journalist – in most circles, not all of course – is like saying I’m in a rock band. Everyone’s heard a good song, few have ever met a musician. At cocktail parties I feel like a rock star dropping names and stories. Everyone wants the inside dirt behind this headline or that.

So, if you’ve never met a real live journalist before, here I am. Welcome to my blog. Here’s what I’m thinking..