A long journey for this outsider now reporting in

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hello. My name is Shay, and I will be your business editor here at the Southeast Missourian. Let me try to explain how that happened.

In 1986, I needed some money. Jobs for a 15 year-old in my small North Carolina town were few, and I had little hope that my reply to an ad in the local paper for a sports reporter and photographer would get noticed. I must have overestimated the allure of the $25 per week salary, because I got the gig.

Driven by my mom or friends until I turned 16, I traveled around the county with my trusty Pentax K-1000, taking pictures of high school athletes, homecoming queens, golf pros and whatever else was assigned. I didn't write well, and my extremely forgiving editor often revised my content so much that I didn't recognize it, but I loved the job. I loved talking to people whom I might not otherwise meet, giving attention to people who were talented, working hard and feeling connected to my community.

Once I started driving, my expenses went up and I was forced to move on, landing a spot at the local radio station. I spent evenings and weekends reading Associated Press stories, announcing the weather, recording commercials and praying the reel-to-reels didn't tangle and broadcast a garbled mess that was worse than the Muzak already playing. My favorite part of the job was reading the succinct AP news copy and feeling as if I knew what was going on in the world.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I left media and made the requisite rounds in the service industry, waiting tables, managing a pizza kitchen and opening and operating a successful bar with friends.

A restaurant consultation job took me to San Francisco, and I ended up staying there and going to graduate school for counseling psychology while working as an editor for an independent publishing company. I eventually became a licensed clinician and opened my own practice.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I fell in love with a boy from Cape Girardeau with whom I'd made pizza all those years earlier in Chapel Hill, and we made something even better together, a family. In 2010, we moved to his hometown and while waiting to become a provider for Missouri insurance panels as a therapist, I started working part-time reporting Cape Girardeau County and Jackson city news for the Southeast Missourian.

It seemed like a wild transition, after almost a decade working in mental health, but it turned out not to be as big a change as I expected. Reporting the news and working as a therapist have a lot in common. It is important to be curious. To pay attention and be accurate. To keep an open mind. To be reliable and trustworthy. To maintain confidentiality when necessary. To ignore your biases and try to figure out what is going on and why.

So, here I am, and I am excited about this job for the same reasons I was excited about my first jobs so long ago: Having the opportunity to talk to

people I might not otherwise encounter; bringing attention to talented, hardworking people; learning what is going on around me; and feeling more connected to the community. I look forward to meeting you!



Pertinent address: 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

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