When my boss asked me to write this, I was a little nervous.
Was she asking me what I do all day? Going to use this to determine my job description?
I decided she was interested in gathering some ammunition to take to the publishers, Calvin and Max, to wangle more money for the newsroom. I’m all for that, especially if it means a raise.
I’m Clarice Stamms and I’m the police reporter for a mid-sized daily newspaper in California called the Monroe Press. My boss is Amy Hobbes, the Managing Editor. And I realize that we’re both lucky to have jobs at one of the few newspapers left that print a daily edition.
My day usually starts around ten in the morning, which is perfect, since I’m a night person. First, I have to have coffee. I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie—probably why I love my job. As the caffeine hits, I read the Press to see if the copy editors changed anything in my stories and check on the headline they wrote. One of the hardest things to get across to people I write about is that I don’t write the headlines. Once I finish the story, and edit it the way I want, it’s out of my hands.
After a quick shower, I start my morning phone calls. I’m not officially at work yet and this time doesn’t get charged to the Press, but it can give up a jump start on my day.
I call the Monroe police and fire department and the county sheriff’s department. I’m looking for any unusual calls they received after about nine p.m. the previous night.
If there’s an active “incident,” a fire, burglary or robbery…something that requires official involvement, I throw on some clothes and hit the street. I used to have a police scanner next to my bed, but didn’t get a lot of sleep. It there’s something really big that goes down in the middle of the night, one of my friends at dispatch will call me but it has to include “shots fired” or “injuries” or “fatalities” or, for a fire “mutual aid requested”. Those are the calls that get immediate responses and most everything will be cleaned up by the next morning, when I would normally get there. Everything else can wait.
My official shift starts at twelve p.m. and runs until nine p.m. which is when I have to turn in my last story for the day.
There isn’t anything that requires me to be at a scene today, so I spend an hour or so at the city police and the county sheriff’s departments, talking to officers about what they’re working on or what training is coming up.
SWAT training or Swift Water Rescue training are good for feature stories and today it’s Swift Water. The cops like them because it shows that they stay ready to help the public and it’s tax dollars at work in a positive way. The summer heat is starting and today I get to spend a chunk of the afternoon at the rivers, watching firefighters and cops in wetsuits, tops unzipped and bottoms hanging off their hips. It’s a difficult assignment, but someone’s gotta do it.
One of the things I’m constantly reminded of by my boss is my relationship with the Sheriff, Jim Dodson. Well, the one beyond my professional relationship.
Amy is the widow of a policeman who was killed in a high-speed chase and she’s constantly reminding me to keep the business and personal barriers up. A little difficult because Jim Dodson and I are…well, “dating.” We don’t know where this will lead.
For now, working at the Press is fine and I love the police beat. I’m covering the most instant news that happens in Monroe. But I do have a master’s degree from the U.C. Berkeley J-school, and I think I’d like to tackle more investigative pieces.
When I began, about five years ago, I had my sights set on working for a major metro, a paper like the San Francisco Chronicle, L.A. Times or the mother lode, the New York Times. Now all those papers are cutting back, so I’m wondering about the wire services like The Associated Press.
Where ever the future is, I spend every day digging up the most interesting stories about people, just plain people, and writing the best stories I can. Whether I’m in Monroe, New York or Africa, I intend to tell stories for the rest of my life.
You can read more about Clarice in Delta for Death, the third book in the “Amy Hobbes Newspaper” mystery series, published May 2015. The first two books in the series are Edited for Death and Labeled for Death.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 28 for the chance to win a Kindle version or PDF of Delta for Death. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
About the author
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her paranormal romance series, The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was named one of the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 by reviewers of the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was awarded second place for best book of 2014.