Looking back at my time in the news media business

My time in the news business taught me a lot. It showed me that newspapers have way more power than people often give them credit for. It showed me the ugly side of people in local politics. It showed me corrupt cops were the norm not the exception. Above all it taught me capitalism rules this country.

I started my news journey in an unconventional way. My first job was working as a photographer for a wedding company. I got lucky the person training me to become a videographer worked as a production assistant for the local TV station. It turned out there was an opening for video editor. He gave me the personal cell phone number of the news director. I got an interview and landed the job on the spot.

I worked as a news video editor for three months before I was promoted to Assistant Producer. From there I worked part time as a camera operator and part time as a video editor. Meanwhile I continued to photograph weddings on the weekends. I saw a lot of cool stuff as an AP.

That job ended badly. One of the news reporters accused me of sexually harassing her. Considering I was deeply in the closet trans and completely asexual this was impossible. But they told me I had to apologize for whatever my actions were to keep my job. I left that job and moved to Texas.

Once I arrived in Texas I immediately landed a job at another local TV station. This time as a Master Control Operator. I did this for all of three days before I got fired for cutting the feed during a national commercial break. Oops. I wasn’t out of the business for long. Turns out the local newspaper in the town where I lived had an opening for Staff Writer. I applied and was given an interview. I was hired on the spot for “wearing a suit and tie” to the interview, something apparently nobody else bothered to do. I worked as a news reporter for that company for almost three whole years. I left to pursue greater opportunities elsewhere.

Once I left the small town paper I landed a job at the local daily community newspaper. This was the big boys in town. We had a newsroom with 30 people in it, much greater than the two at my last newspaper. I worked there first as an unassigned reporter. I worked whatever beat they had need for me. Then I got my first beat, education reporter. I did that for three months and won an award for my work.

Then I was given the Government Reporter beat. In the news industry that is one of the top beats to get. It requires getting intimately familiar with top brass in all walks of life. I walked the red carpet, spent time in the VIP room, was smoozed by a local oil tycoon and the list goes on. I took over editor of the website and became digital producer for the newspaper. I ran the website and our sports podcast along side my day-to-day duties as a Government reporter. I left that job for greener pastures.

I made it back into TV after several years of being at newspapers. I was hired as a News Producer/Editor for a local TV station. This was near management level work. I say near because chain of command is fuzzy in a newsroom but I was above the reporters in the chain. I worked there for three months then finally started my transition into a female from living a lie as a male-presenting individual. Needless to say I lost my job due to things I am not legally allowed to discuss after I signed an NDA. That was my last full time paid gig in the news industry.

I ran a lot of stories during my seven year tenure in the business. I took a lot of photographs. I filmed a lot of events. I reported on big and small stories, some even becoming national stories. I served my community well. I won awards and accolades for my work. To this day I am proud of my time working in the news media industry.

Despite all that I will never go back. The most I would consider would be staff writer at a small town newspaper so long as it paid a living wage. I am perfectly happy with how my life has turned out thus far. I got to experience a lot of good times in the news business. But I also saw the dark side of it all. Look for future articles chronicling the shady stuff I had to experience and the trauma-inducing stories I was required to cover. For now know this. I was a damn good reporter. I have sources to back that up. I have top-notch references. I choose to stay out of the news business because I found peace elsewhere.

Coming to terms with my disabilities in an ableist society

I used to shy away from telling people I had a disability. Partly because I saw how my friends who are disabled were treated by those around them. Yet here I am coming to terms with my own disabilities. It’s not an easy subject to discuss. People think you are lesser than they are because you struggle with things they take for granted.

I have multiple disabilities. For starters I permanently broke my foot in an accident I don’t talk about. I walk with a cane. I have a handicap permit. I cannot do any job that requires me to be on my feet for the majority of the day. This limits the jobs I can pursue. It is a physical disability I had to come to grips with. I constantly have people asking me why I didn’t just get the surgery to fix my foot or why I don’t do physical therapy. Put it simply money. I couldn’t afford the surgery and I can’t afford physical therapy. So I walk with a cane. I limp with a cane rather, I don’t walk anywhere. I can’t I physically cannot run. I cannot stride. I cannot skip. I cannot do jumping jacks. I am severely limited in what I can do as a result.

I also have a slew of mental health disabilities. First up is borderline personality disorder. My emotions get the best of me. If I lose my temper I am blinded by anger and literally nothing can calm me down. This has landed me in trouble with the law on multiple occasions. It is something I cannot control. I take mood stabilizers but they can only do so much. This limits the stressful situations I can be in and still function.

I was a news reporter for several years with this disability. I cannot tell you how many times I had to sit in an office while upper management literally yelled at me for mistakes I made I couldn’t control. Things that prevented me from climbing the ladder too high.

I also have bipolar disorder. I can’t begin to tell you how debilitating it is to not have the focus to function in society. This keeps me from performing high stress and mentally demanding jobs. This is another reason why I failed as a news reporter. I struggled to control my mania and then depression would make me unable to write well. I could just shut down. There are days where I literally cannot get out of bed because depression is crippling to me.

I also have severe social anxiety disorder. If I am in a space of any size that has more than two people, myself and one other person, I shut down. I can’t speak. I can’t breath. I run the risk of having an anxiety attack which I have had multiple times while at work. I can’t tell you how many jobs I lost because of a panic attack. There is nothing I can do for this one. There is no treatment. There is no magic pill that makes me able to talk to people. I can handle one-on-one conversations with people I trust but add a third person and my brain goes into panic mode.

I am trans gender. While this isn’t a disability in it’s own right it is a limiting factor in my ability to find gainful employment. I struggle with discrimination all the time. While it isn’t a tried and true disability per se it has caused me to lose employment. I was told by one employer, in Texas, they were legally allowed to discriminate against me because I was trans. I couldn’t fight back because they had religious exemption.

I have a medical condition that limits my ability to function. My stomach muscles do not work. If I eat too much solid food, no matter what it is, I throw up. Sometimes I puke even on an empty stomach. I get dry heaves literally every single day. I have bathroom issues as a result too. I am technically supposed to be on a 100 percent liquid diet but I can’t survive like that so I run the risk of vomiting every single time I eat anything.

I have physical, mental health and medical disabilities. I struggle with day to day things people take for granted. Yet I constantly have to face people telling me to just get over it, buck up, try harder, etc., when I literally cannot. I do the best I can with what I have to work with but truth be told I have severe limits to what I can do. And it sucks the way I get treated as a result.

Some dismiss my disabilities. They say so and so has x and they do just fine. They forget each person is different. While it is possible to over come some of my individual disabilities, it is extremely difficult with everything I face. Yet I do. I fight on. I do not lean on my disabilities even though I suffer. I do try harder. I do buck up. I do push myself beyond my limits until I break down. Because our society is ableist and if you have any sort of deviation from the norm you are treated like an outcast of society. A worthless human incapable of making a “real contribution” to society. A drain on resources. This is why I struggle.