One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about the news business is how fast things can change.

Wednesday morning, I was minutes from leaving home to meet my editor at a downtown coffee shop for my annual evaluation. Then, I got a couple calls about helping with that morning’s big story — the 50-plus exotic animals turned loose near Zanesville.

If you’d of told me the previous weekend we’d be writing about such a thing as a man who apparently commits suicide and turns loose scores of lions, tigers and even bears, I’d of seriously thought you were crazy. Even as I learned more about the story and began to make phone calls, I still had a hard time believing the situation and some of the headlines I kept reading.

One focus

There we were, all the media in Ohio and basically all the media across the nation tuned into this one wild event, trying to find out as much as we could and as soon as we could.

And there I was, trying to figure out how I was going to place my calls for interviews, and also meet my boss for my evaluation.

Fortunately, our Salem reporter, Kristy Foster, handled most of the initial story and on that particular morning, it was a blessing.

I had another game changer come Friday. I had seen a tweet about flooded soybean fields in northwestern Wayne County. So, after talking with the same farmer that morning, I left home to take pictures for a crop update story.

I also spent some time talking to the feed mill manager in West Salem, who said the wet harvest season is really slowing everyone down.

What I intended to do

I drove back home with the intention of reviewing my pictures and making a few more weather-related phone calls. But I took one look at my emails and saw something else. A 2:30 press conference with the governor, who was about to sign an executive order concerning exotic animals.

The pictures got pushed to the side, and so did the other two stories I was working on at the time.

The governor’s event naturally came first, and within minutes I was tuned into the live broadcast of the press conference in Columbus, via The Ohio Channel. The governor spoke first, followed by Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Scott Zody, Ohio Agriculture Director James Zehringer, and then Jack Hanna’s wife, Suzi.

Top story

The signing of the executive order was a big deal, as were the comments made by each person. When they were done talking, my whole focus was writing fast and getting the story online. I got the story posted about an hour later, and aside from not getting much else done that afternoon, I felt pretty good about myself.

I’m hoping this week will be more balanced — the kind where you make plans and are able to stick to them — at least for the most part.

But the reality is, anything can happen and at any time. Sunday morning, I read about the tragedy in Erie County where a hay wagon apparently overturned during a hayride, injuring nearly 30 passengers. It appears from credible news reports, the driver of the tractor was intoxicated from alcohol.

As a reporter, I often feel like I’m juggling six balls at one time and if I add one more I’m going to drop them all.

It’s usually more of a feeling than a reality, because the reality is this is what news reporters do. But the surprises are always that, and they don’t get any easier — at least not in my opinion.

Those flood pictures …

If you missed seeing the field pictures I took last week, here they are. They clearly show how wet it is in some places in Ohio, and how that has affected harvest is a story of its own.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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