A few Friday nights ago, I was sitting on my couch in the dark, absent-mindedly flipping channels, not really watching anything in particular.
It was nearly 11 p.m. My wife was asleep, the dog was, too. I was kind of bored, but not tired enough to go to bed myself. Then, scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone – no need to actually look at the TV when every channel is playing a movie you’ve seen 50 times – I noticed that a number of my neighbours were discussing a loud explosion nearby.
Some people had heard a loud bang; cops were already on the scene, apparently. Someone else heard more sirens approaching.
It was at that point that my reporter instincts kicked in. Sure, it was late, and I don’t live in the same city in which I work – meaning, essentially, that I didn’t technically have a professional obligation to investigate – but I decided to make the 10-minute stroll to see what was going on, anyway.
While I was walking – second-guessing my decision to leave my warm house and comfortable couch – I thought of the many times people have asked me why I decided on a career in journalism, and also why I have stuck with it as long as I have.
I usually tell them I do it for the money and job security. Then, when the laughter dies down, I tell them the real reason: I like to find things out. I like to know things that other people don’t.
There’s an adrenaline factor, too, when something interesting happens – even if it’s late at night on a day off.
Former Peace Arch News editor Lance Peverley once told me that he liked it when news broke on deadline and we’d all have to scramble to get something into that next edition of the paper, even if it meant tearing apart pages and eighty-sixing stories we already had ready to go.
Sure it was stressful, but he liked the buzz.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’d agree – most of the time, I just want things to go smoothly – but I will admit to enjoying the excitement once in awhile. As my friend and former PAN reporter Kristyl Clark often puts it, sometimes you need “the juice.”
It wasn’t always like that for me. Originally, I wanted to become a sports reporter because I liked sports and could write well. It really was that simple.
Of course, when you work at a community newspaper, you don’t ever get to do just one thing, so I’m now conditioned to have vested interests in things that don’t involve a puck or a ball.
Even elections, sometimes (in non-pandemic years, of course).
Turns out, that explosion that captured the attention of my neighbourhood was nothing more than the work of some teenagers who decided to have some pre-Halloween fun by stuffing a garbage can with handfuls of lit firecrackers.
By the time I got there, the street was empty, save for the garbage can in the distance with a hole blown in its side.
When I got back home, my wife, now awake, asked me why I had even bothered to go. I didn’t really have a good answer for her – like I said, I didn’t have to. But I did, because I was curious.
Because something (potentially) exciting was happening.
And because, sometimes, you just need the juice. Even if it’s just a couple of stupid kids with firecrackers.
Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.