The Chicago Tribune’s Peter Nickeas wrote a column Thursday about what it’s like to cover crime and how, over time, what he has seen starts to make sense.
It shouldn’t, but that’s the way it is. And that’s the essence of covering crime in Chicago. Of working overnights. Of covering more than 80 people shot in a holiday weekend. Of living here.
As reporters we can use these scenes to explain what’s happening to a neighborhood in a city of neighborhoods. But none of the observations captures how it feels to cover this night after night.
In short, it feels bad. We’re paid observers of human misery. We go toward bad things, watch people during the worst moments of their lives and hope they’ll talk to us.
It needs to be done. I think our work adds to the public conversation. But it’s stressful, it’s exhausting, it’s never-ending. Things that shouldn’t be normal become so, to the point where it’s almost comical. We get slap-happy. We argue. Gallows humor creeps into our talk.