The sounds of a car engine coming to a halt echoed throughout a modest West Philadelphia neighborhood as Stephanie Farr arrived at the home of two young children’s grandmother.
The two children recently witnessed their mother being fatally shot in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant by her ex-boyfriend (the children’s father), and it was Farr’s job to write a news piece on it.
Although already downhearted by the children’s awful experience, she grudgingly got out of her car to interview them. She entered the home to see pictures of their mother and father sprawled out across the table, and a four year old child sitting in a nearby chair.
After talking about the incident, the 4 year old lifted a delicate finger and pointed at a photo of his mother, and stated, “Good mommy”. Then he pointed at a picture of his father and dismally uttered the words, “Bad daddy”. The innocent child then told Farr that he knew his mommy was dead, and he knew his daddy killed her.
Experiencing things like this has become a part of life for crime and justice journalist Stephanie Farr, but telling the story still brings tears to her eyes.
Ms. Farr has been a journalist for about 9 years, and has dealt with all the difficult things that come along with the job.
“The hardest part of my job is having to knock on the doors of families that lost loved ones recently” Farr stated.
People will often tell Farr to leave when she knocks, for they are usually and understandably still in stages of grief. Although some people can be kind when asking her to go, others have physically threatened her to leave their property. When people refuse to speak to her, she has to search for indirect sources to interview, which can prove to be more difficult than it seems.
It’s very hard for her to interview government workers and police in particular, for they often do not want to help her, or do not open themselves up when asked certain questions.
She also finds her job to be a very emotional one, especially when tragic stories involve children or the elderly, and over the years, it hasn’t become any easier for her.
“Most people think that the more sad stories you write, the tougher you get, but I’ve just gotten softer” Farr countered.
Her job isn’t filled with all hard times though.
Her favorite part about her job is simply being paid to write, which to her, is the one of the best things she could have asked for in a job. She loves the city of Philadelphia, and being able to write about deep and interesting things in the area is extremely enjoyable for her.
“Being a journalist here is a fascinating window into Philly”, Farr said. “I go places I wouldn’t usually go, like southwest Philly, and it’s showed me that there’s many places to go and many different ways to live”.
Going to new places has also allowed her to meet unique people, like the man who walks the streets dressed as Jesus while carrying a cross. She also gets the opportunity to meet many important/famous people, such as Pope Francis, the Director of the United States Secret Service, and Cary Elwes (the actor that portrayed Westley in the classic film The Princess Bride). In order to get information for her articles, she has also been able to attend events like the NHL Stanley Cup, Peeps Fest, and the MLB World Series.
She finds journalism to be an exciting work field, for she never knows what will happen the next day at work, or what she might be able to experience.
Her job may be a difficult one at times, but to her, the positives outweigh the negatives, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. ◆