Saturday, June 23, 2007

The BIG story

Dear Jessie,

I have learned so much about you this week without us ever meeting face-to-face. In some ways, I feel like I know you though I’ve never heard your voice. Let me introduce myself. I’m just one of a slew of journalists whose been learning everything I can about you this week. I’ve asked your neighbors about you. I’ve met your co-workers. I’ve gotten to know you’re younger sister, Whitney, on a first-name basis. I’ve heard what a caring and devoted mother you are. I’ve watched your mother and others cry and talk about you daily. It’s obvious you are loved by so many.

Those you’ve never met, thousands of them, have stepped forward to help you. Many thousands more are praying for you. Dedicated police officers, some of them from as far away as Washington D.C., are working long hours in your name. Every hour, millions of strangers around the country are tuning in to radio and TV or surfing the web to get the latest on your life. You’re the talk of the town Jessie.

But to be totally honest, I wish you were still relatively unknown. I wish I didn’t know where you live or work or liked to eat. I wish I didn’t know that you were the oldest of seven kids and where you went to grade school. I just wish you were here to live your life and to be excited about the birth of your second child.

The more I think about you Jessie, the more I just simply wish we didn’t have bastards in this world who would take you away. Someone who would kidnap a pregnant mother in front of her own toddler. Someone who would do you harm in your own home. Someone whose making all of us double-check the locks on our doors every night and whose made my friend keep a worried eye on his daughter whose expecting the same week you are.

I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. This is big week for me. As a journalist, I’m supposed to be excited about cover the BIG story. As one of my colleagues said this week, “this is why you went to college and got into the TV business.” In reality, he’s right. My reports this week have aired on the local news in other cities and some of my work has been seen on national news. It’s all aimed at covering the tale of your life, and I get to be the storyteller. Strangers keep asking me for the “inside story” about what’s going on with you. It seems everyone in the Akron-Canton area can’t get enough of you Jessie, and that makes me a person in demand for information. My professional ego should be soaring, right?!?!

But right now Jessie, I wish I was covering a boring public meeting instead of the BIG story. I wish the woman with the great smile in your missing person photos was smiling at her home, playing with her son, and getting ready for the big day that a little sister arrives. I wish we were meeting for the first time at the park watching our kids play in the first weeks of summer instead of through police press conferences and searches in the woods.

Like I said, I hope you know how loved you are. I hope you know how much everyone wants you back where you belong. Above all, I hope you know that even reporters who salivate for the BIG story wish the last 10 days were about something other than you.

3 comments:

Christine said...

Thank you Eric and your crew for the coverage of the Akron/Canton Area at this sad time. God bless Jessie and her baby and may justice be served. I was so hoping and praying for a good outcome as I know you were too.
Christine

Eric Mansfield said...

Hi Christine. It was a hard evening as you can imagine. This poor family has been through so much. And for those with Bobby Cutts' family, they too are grieving after standing by their loved one for more than a week. The thousands of searchers were also let down. There are no winners here and I think we'll all be numb for some time to come. Eric

laurac19 said...

Eric,

This is what makes you such a great reporter - you CARE about the people you report about and it shows! You're awesome... keep blogging and keep caring... do what you do because you're great at it! I know that Jessie's family is grateful for the respectful way in which you reported her story, and we love you for it.

Laura