Janet Stewart: A story that came with a warning
Janet Stewart, host of CBC News: Winnipeg, reflects on being "painfully human" as she prepares to present a story Wednesday on Newtown shooting victim Ana Marquez-Greene, a former Winnipegger.
The last thing I did as I was leaving work Tuesday night was grab a box of Kleenex, plunk it in the middle of my desk, and scribble a reminder note on it: "take to studio." We're running out of tissues upstairs, and apparently I'm going to need them.
Ryan Hicks went to Connecticut recently to talk with the Marquez-Greene family about how they're handling the tragedy of their little girl's murder.
Ana was one of the children shot down in the Newtown school massacre.
Any old friends of the family here in Winnipeg who I've spoken with describe the Marquez-Greenes as a remarkable family. That strength and openness certainly shows in their willingness to share their story with CBC News.
Clearly, there's something they want you to know.
I've been warned twice now that Ryan's story is going to make me cry — first by our senior producer, Melanie Verhaeghe, who previewed the story Tuesday afternoon, and then later by Ryan himself.
I would never make it in the world of professional poker playing. I am a ball of emotions, and these people know that. Funny things make me shriek with laughter, injustices infuriate me and, yes, sad things make me cry. Even if I'm on TV at the time.
I understand how sobbing uncontrollably would interrupt the flow of a television show. You wouldn't be able to understand a word I was saying and my nose would run.
But a little tear or two, I'm OK with that. I'm human, painfully human. There's nothing I can do about that.
And if a story's sad enough to make me cry, I'm guessing that at that moment, you're a little choked up, too.
I've never wanted to "deliver" the news ("Ding dong. Here's your pizza. Would you like some news with that?" Wait … that idea might actually sell). I've always tried to be the same person on TV as I am in real life, only wearing more makeup and with smoother hair.
If I actually think about the words I'm saying to you, emotion is going to show. What decent storyteller tells a happy story the same way as a scary story or a sad story?
When CBC News: Winnipeg starts every evening, I want to sit down with you, my friend, and say, "Guess what happened today?"
Guess what happened today? Two different people warned me that a story we're running is going to make me cry. They're probably right.