COLUMN: A strange time to start a new job

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Juliana Walker

When I started at the News-Journal nearly a month ago, I was told a lot of what I would be reporting about isn’t “hard-hitting” news. There would be many articles about festivals, pizza parties at schools and perhaps a three-legged dog.

But, since I’ve been working here, nearly everything I have done has been “hard-hitting” in some capacity. The coronavirus pandemic, which was threatening before I started this job, came in hot on my first day and hasn’t let up. 

It’s an incredibly strange time for everyone, but trust me when I say it’s a really strange time to start a new job. 

I have yet to experience what a “normal” day is like here. Apparently, it doesn’t involve wiping down my desk with Clorox and locking the door to the public.

Nearly every interview I have conducted has been on the phone or video chat, and almost every County Commissioners’ meeting I have attended has involved sitting six-feet apart and avoiding the innate handshake.

I already knew journalism was incredibly important. Journalism school tattooed the First Amendment into my brain. But, becoming a reporter during this crisis has proven it’s even more critical than I thought. It’s essential. We are essential workers, after all.

There are rumors every day, and we are doing our best to tame them. We’re here to provide the public with the facts and the truth as best we can at a weekly newspaper. 

I was warned about the friction that can be present among local officials in our county before I started this job. The division is present in every pocket of politics. But, during this crisis, I have seen the leaders and officials of Mitchell County come together to try and protect the health and safety of our community.

This united effort gives me hope and affirms my belief that we are going to get through this, whether it’s sooner or later. 

I have learned a lot from reporting about this crisis, but I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing a “normal” day at the News-Journal, where I may finally get to write a story about that three-legged dog.


Juliana Walker is a reporter for the Mitchell News-Journal. She may be reached by email at