My protagonist, TV reporter Riley Spartz, generally wakes up alone. Her zeal for breaking news stories has lead to several broken relationships.
She reaches from her pillow to turn off the alarm clock, then grope for the television remote. This gives her first chance to see if anything wild happened overnight. She hates waking up to horrific news. This morning her station had zip. But neither did any of her competitors. All that was on the air was rehash, features and weather. That meant she had time for a shower and coffee before heading off to Channel 3.
Her working day starts off with a morning news huddle of producers, reporters and the news director who debate what stories should get highest priority. By then, they’ve all looked at the overnight ratings and seen what went wrong the day before and started in on the second guessing of why Channel 3 can’t seem to win the ratings war.
Her boss, Bryce Griffin, tries to put the blame on viewers, attributing the drop in numbers to a recent Gallup poll that shows America’s confidence in TV news to be at an all time low.
“But if people don’t trust the media, doesn’t the media bear some responsibility?” Riley asks.
“People love to hate the media,” he responds. “Nothing we can do about it except fill the space between the commercials.”
“We can do our job well.” Riley points out several gaffes by national cable news rushing to be first with breaking political news involving a controversial Supreme Court decision. “Maybe we deserve what we get when we mess things up.”
Bryce dismisses any media ethics debate walks over to the assignment board to eye the day’s lineup.
Most TV reporters have to turn at least a story a day, but as an investigative journalist, Riley is expected to land exclusives that shake up the community and get people to tune into Channel 3. She used to be given extra time to chase those kind of leads, but with budget cuts the station was cutting back on special projects and calling anything that wasn’t already posted online as an “investigation.”
Bryce points to the one of the duller stories on the board – construction on a new bridge to connect Minnesota and Wisconsin – and assigns it to Riley. She shrugs and doesn’t argue that it’s outside her beat and that she’s already working to enterprise a story about gang violence in north Minneapolis. She’s trying to be a team player.
That night Riley watches the late news, clicking between stations. Once the newscast turns to sports scores, she goes to bed. Alone. And tells herself tomorrow is another day, and at least NO one tried to kill her in the last 24 hours.
You can read more about Riley in SHUNNING SARAH, the fifth book in the “Riley Spartz” mystery series. The first book in the series is Stalking Susan.
Meet the author
Julie Kramer writes a mystery series set in the desperate world of television news—a world she knows well from her career working as a freelance news producer for NBC and CBS, as well as running the WCCO-TV I-Team in Minneapolis, where she won numerous national investigative awards.
Julie recently won the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense for Killing Kate. Julie also won the Minnesota Book Award and the RT Book Review’s Best First Mystery. She has also been a finalist for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
Julie grew up along the Minnesota-Iowa state line, fourth generation of a family who raised cattle and farmed corn for 130 years. Julie lives with her family in White Bear Lake, MN. Visit her website at www.juliekramerbooks.com.
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