Meg Martin

Online Editor, The Roanoke Times

Roanoke, Va.

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My first real day in the newsroom – without the training wheels here – was April 16, 2007.

I had been here for two weeks. My first week was in HR training, and my second week was in sort of checking on people, and it was my first day, with the training wheels off, being in the newsroom – just a regular day – just sort of – kind of figuring out what it was going to be like in The Roanoke Times newsroom.

It was a normal day until about nine o’clock in the morning, and that was when, a little bit after nine, I guess, we found out about the shootings at Virginia Tech and everything changed. And everything changed for a very, very long time – and maybe forever.

And I was obviously very new to the newsroom, and my contribution there was basically – do whatever they need you to do and do what ever you know how to do and don’t get in anyone’s way.

And it was really – I didn’t know many people here because I hadn’t been in the newsroom very long. And I learned a lot in the first couple of hours – even – about the place where I had landed and about the people and about the news organization I was working for. Because I kept hearing – in so many words and so many other words – about all the decisions people were making. Some simple things – like when to publish names and who to contact and who to talk to. I kept hearing the same conversation over and over again – people saying: “This is our community. These are our people. How do we best serve them?”

And it wasn’t – it wasn’t put on. It wasn’t fake. It wasn’t: “Oh, I guess we should probably have this conversation.” It was so real, and it was so genuine.

I remember I actually wrote to my mom like late, late that night – because I’d been in the newsroom for like 20 hours – saying that – telling her that I knew I had come to the right place – even under these awful circumstances – because people were asking these questions that I didn’t think people actually asked. That I had read about in my textbooks that I didn’t think people actually asked in real newsroom – but they were.

And I was hearing these conversations asked by the editor and by the Metro editors and reporters, saying, “How are we are going to best serve our community and how are we going to make sure that – tomorrow and next week and next month – that when we run into people in the community, in the grocery store, that we’re going to be proud of the work we’ve done? And they’re gonna’ be able to know that we’re serving them in the right way.”

And, you know, that’s when I knew I had come to the right place. And I was really proud to have been able to work with people like that.