One of the neat things about being a reporter is we never know for sure where a work day is going to take us. Every story is an adventure. One of the not-so-neat things is when the story we're working on inexplicably goes south.
I pitched a story idea in our afternoon meeting after reading about how a Chesterfield neighborhood behind Parkway Central High's recycling center is at its wits end after dealing with loud noises, bright lights and garbage smells for about five years.
I figured these people would be happy to talk to me and I'd tell a compelling, unbiased story about the situation. I'd talk to the neighbors about how they've been impacted... and I'd give the school district's side on how they're helping kids help the environment by saving tons of trash from landfills.
My story hit a snag soon after the first neighbor I called agreed to an interview. As we got close to his house, he called me and cancelled the interview. He didn't want to do it now. Okay. I thought that was weird but I could deal with that. I'll call the other people who's names where in the article I read. These people are passionate about their cause. They will want to talk, I thought.
One woman was too busy... one guy didn't return my call. A couple whose door I knocked on was pretty much indifferent about the whole thing. Finally, in desperation for the slam dunk interview I figured at 12:30pm I'd have no problem getting, I called back the woman who was too busy... to see if she could recommend someone else I could talk to. She put a neighbor on the phone who was visiting her home who said no one is going to talk to me for this story.
The didn't like the fact they were only going to be in a 90-second television story (which is what reporters produce every night at News 4). In their minds, this was a much bigger story that deserves significantly more time (I think they were hoping I was with 60 minutes). They wanted hours of my time to go over all they've had to deal with over the years because of the Parkway Central recycling facility within nearly a stone's throw of their homes. They were also upset I hadn't covered any of their meetings (keep in mind I found out about this story today). One person suggested our coverage would favor the school system so she didn't want to be a part of it.
While Parkway Schools answered all my questions and let us shoot video of their controversial facility, they too didn't want to have anyone go on camera for this story.
Perhaps everyone was just having a bad hair day.
I did get one TV interview... a Chesterfield city councilmember who's been dealing with this issue on behalf of the residents. Ironically he's bald.
Yep, it had to be a bad hair day.