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Day by Day: The Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter

Elizabeth Thompson


I remember one of my first encounters with Liz Thompson. It disappointed me. You see, I was trying to hire Liz to be a reporter for Suburban News Publications (SNP), a group of 21 weekly newspapers in the Columbus (Ohio) metropolitan area. I was the editor and always on the lookout for talent, especially mature professionals with a variety of life experiences. With more than 60 people working on our news staff, many were young reporters and editors gaining their first real journalism, and real life, experience.

But Liz was different. She already had proven herself as a column writer, contributing insightful, slice-of-life pieces regularly as a reader. So when she told me she had an interest in reporting, my welcome door flew wide open. But then Liz had second thoughts—I’m still not sure why—and decided the full-time commitment didn’t suit her. So she enlisted as a part-time typist for the copy desk. That was my disappointment; I wanted the full-time reporter version. Still, at least she was in the newsroom, and said perhaps she would try her hand at a free-lance piece, stringer reporting. I still had a shot.

In retrospect, I think Liz’s reluctance to report full-time was a matter of self-doubt. She wasn’t sure how her deafness would affect her work as a reporter. But Liz has never been one to wallow in the negative. Rather, she’s more like the first paratrooper out of the plane. It didn’t take long for her to bite on that first assignment and that was that—Liz loved reporting, loved writing, most of all she loved meeting people, talking to them, hearing their stories, and sharing her stories. From there, it was just a matter of waiting until another full-time reporting job opened up. Not surprisingly, that didn’t happen quickly, and Liz had to bide her time. Now that she had tasted reporting, however, that waiting game was not easy for her. I got frequent calls reminding me she wanted the next job, asking me if I still was committed to hiring her. That bulldog approach was just one more thing that would make Liz an effective, and extremely prolific, reporter.

The job did finally open up, and Liz did get it. Seldom have I seen a journalist approach his or her job with the enthusiasm, joy really, that Liz mustered virtually every day. If it was a feature story about a senior citizen, Liz was psyched up because that person was such a joy, had such a tale to tell and—invariably—had crossed paths in some way with Liz’s experiences. Not only did this give the paper wonderful features, textured with Liz’s empathetic style; it also built bridges from our company to the communities in which Liz worked.

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