People can be downright nasty

Most of you know what I do for a living.

My boss often says: You don’t want Victoria writing about you. It means you – or your loved ones – are having a really bad day.

I cover crime, courts and breaking news for Gannett and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Monday was rough – two fatal crashes (on the same road, no less), a news conference on the state providing funding for bulletproof vests for police officers, and what appeared to be a drowning in the river.

Tuesday was even nuttier with more on the river search and the sentencing of a 22-year-old man who brutally beat his girlfriend to death with objects around her college dorm room, including a coffee mug and a clothing iron. He wept throughout the court appearance and ultimately was sentenced to the max – 25 years to life in prison.

You don’t want to hear the gritty details. Trust me.

While I love what I do, some days can be damn hard.

victoriaWorking the scene a few years back. Photo by Carlos Ortiz

Sometimes the news hits home. Sometimes it becomes personal. Sometimes you hug the source bawling on your shoulder. Sometimes you realize you are a person first and a reporter second.

I often see my work posted on websites and shared via social media. That I love. But what’s grown increasingly disheartening is how people commenting on the work can be downright nasty.

On a piece about the arrest of a single working mom who left her 4-year-old child in the car while she was working, I see people ridiculing her, calling her names and questioning her ability to care for herself, let alone her son.

Regarding an article about a fatal crash involving a wrong-way driver, people badmouth the motorist, the intersection then turn on one another.

And Tuesday’s sentencing? Let’s just say comments like “rot in jail,” “where’s the firing squad” and suggestions for someone to stab him with a sharpened toothbrush in prison are among the kinder ones.

While I love so much about social media, such as its ability to connect people of common interest, it seems to have also made it increasingly acceptable – not to mention easy – to publicize and amplify any gripe with a business. Many people post a vicious complaint, even berate a company online, to ensure a response rather than take the time to speak with an employee, go to a store or make a phone call.

I’m wondering – where’s our compassion? When did it become acceptable to ridicule others in a public forum? When did it become acceptable to throw a public tantrum to get our way? Is this degrading discourse a bigger sign of what’s to come? Is this the fault of online communities and social media?

I certainly hope not. Whenever I want to respond to nasty comments, to reply and ultimately feed into the negativity, I type my response and promptly delete it.

What do you think of people’s insta-reactions on news articles, some blogs and other newsworthy items online? Do you filter yourself when posting?

Side note: I have a work-related Facebook page. If you wish to see more of what I cover or join the conversation, I’m “Victoria Freile” on Facebook.

A runner’s point of view: VIDEO

“You run really steadily with a camera,” my husband told me over the weekend. “That’s a talent.”

Uh, thanks?

But really, I was worried if I could pull it off, shooting video footage with a camera strapped to my noggin. If I was all over the place, it would make all our viewers green…but certainly NOT with envy.

As some of you may already know, I ran the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Rochester last week with a GoPro camera on my head.

gopro1Yep. That’s a video camera on my head

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO: Running the Corporate Challenge

I really wasn’t sure how it would go – and it very nearly didn’t since I managed to drain the battery just before the big race. Fortunately, I caught it in time, recharged and was ready to roll when the 3.5-mile road race started Thursday evening.



I tweeted the above picture out moments before I headed to the start line.

I’ve tackled the race, Rochester’s largest office party more than a half-dozen times in recent years. Held annually at the Rochester Institute of Technology campus, it’s a lot of fun.

691Laughing my butt off with Jessica before the 2013 race.

I’ve run in 95 degrees and begged for water at both of the course’s water stops. I’ve raced it. I’ve paced other runners. I’ve run injured.

Oh yeah, and I ran in a monsoon. Looking at you, 2009.

wetCCWith former colleagues Steph and John in 2009. You really can’t tell in this pic, but we are all completely drenched. And as a side bonus, my car battery died on the way home from this waterlogged race.

I know the course well, so was prepared and excited to take the Democrat and Chronicle’s readers on a tour. This year, the weather was perfect. It was in the 6os or so, with a light breeze and only a few clouds in the sky. I was ready to run.

corpcTeam Democrat and Chronicle

I headed over to the start line just minutes before the 7 p.m. and shot some footage of some of the 10,900 waiting runners. (It was way more packed than the below pic, which I snapped about 2 hours before the race started.)

corpc1The starting line; before the masses arrived.

I lined up with my friend Traci, knowing full well that I’d lose her in the first quarter-mile. Even if she wasn’t listening to a word I said, I felt better chatting up a storm with a friend nearby rather the talking-to-myself tactic I adopted partway through the course.

The second wave started and were were off. I repeatedly reminded myself not to dodge other runners and weave through the crowd as I’d regret spending that energy later. And really, it doesn’t get you any further ahead in the crowd, it only serves as an aggravation. Trust me!

Last year was the first year the race offered wave starts, a huge improvement from previous years when about 10,000 people started at all once. It was always frustrating, as people would line up inappropriately and you’d be dodging people left and right for the first full mile. The improvement was much appreciated.

I quickly conquered the lone hill on the course and chatted with a few strangers as I coasted downhill. I pulled to the side to film runners rounding a curve. I paused at the water stop – and as a result scared the stuffing out of one lovely volunteer, sorry buddy! But I got some great footage.

I talked to myself as I ran. I cheered for a few strangers. I chatted with (and scared off) several more runners.

I pulled the camera off my head repeatedly. I shot my own moving feet. I shot the people next to me as we ran side by side. I shot over my shoulder. I shot upside down. I repeatedly checked that the camera was operating properly. (it was, sorry Tina.)

I ran off the course repeatedly and filmed runners coming straight towards me. I shoved the camera back on my head and huffed and puffed to pass people as I ran toward the finish.

After crossing, I zipped to the side, behind one of the D&C’s photographers, and shot more images of finishers. Success!

 corpc2Thanks for watching!

The final video was produced by my talented colleague Tina MacIntyre-Yee. She did an amazing job, as she always does.

Have you ever run with a GoPro? Would you? Have you ever run the Corporate Challenge… in the sun, wind or rain? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!

A Day in the Life: Vic

My newspaper used to do a monthly Day in the Life series. It was one of my favorite assignments each month as I got to learn all about people’s special stories.

I witnessed a grape fight in the cafeteria of an area high school, which made it into print despite pleas from an assistant principal.

I met a local vet who showed me the bullet that was his ticket home from Europe in World War II. (He proudly kept it, by the way.) And I even interviewed an enthusiastic autistic teen just days before he wowed the world by sinking six 3-pointers in the final four minutes on the basketball court during his only varsity game of the season. Yep, I’m talking about J-Mac.

Yep. DITLO has a special place in my heart. But still I wasn’t sure how to go about my own.

I couldn’t decide whether to share a weekday or weekend, so I went with my behind the scenes on a workday. After all, I know you’re dying to know what happens at a newspaper.

On days when I don’t run before I head to the office, I snooze my alarm until the last possible moment before I launch into my pre-work morning routine.

And what’s the item I can’t leave home without? You guessed it- coffee.

20140527-214539.jpgI make myself not one, but two travel mugs of coffee each morning.

I’m at my desk by 7:30, unless I’m called in earlier for an assignment or sent straight to a crime scene. I’ll regret saying this, but I haven’t been woken out of a dead sleep by an editor yet this year. I’m long overdue.

20140527-220241.jpgMy home away from home: The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. It’s in a pretty sharp old building in downtown Rochester.

I make calls and gather info for breaking news stories. Then I run over to court to get some more info, interview people and so on.

20140527-221229.jpgHeaded to court, with a letter to mail to Meri!

I can’t take photos inside court, but here’s the view of from the front doors, just outside Rochester City Court.

20140528-203325.jpgThat’s the Hall of Justice on the left. I spent lots of time there.

Sometimes I cover a news conference, as I did with this one about the lone unsolved homicide for 2014 in Rochester.

homicideFamily of a city man  killed in January and Rochester police before a news conference.

As I worked Tuesday, runDisney announced their newest race – the Star Wars Half Marathon… And the interwebs exploded. Holy Moly! I quickly wrote about it for work before the workday was through.

After work, I hurried over to my salon to get my eyebrows waxed. I get defuzzed every few weeks and today was my day. Otherwise I could double as a wookiee for an upcoming race!

20140528-204415.jpgWaiting my turn in my fave pink chucks

After my appointment, I popped into a drug store. But first, traffic.

20140528-204945.jpgJamming to my jams in a jam

Then I headed toward Wegmans to get a few staples – milk, yogurt, bananas. I also got English muffins. I am currently obsessed with them. Never heard of Wegmans? I live in the land where the popular grocery store is based, so I have more than a dozen stores to choose from. My neighborhood store is a mile from my house.

And yes, I go almost daily. Take my money, Danny.

20140528-205239.jpgGot yogurt?

20140528-205521.jpgNanas! The greener the better.

Once home, I found that our new screen door was partially installed. Hubs and I live in a 190-year-old farm house in suburban Rochester. And an old farm house, while pretty damn awesome, also means a lot of work. This summer we are tackling some work that we had been putting off. This door was long overdue – the old one was literally crumbling and has been since we bought the house 9 years ago.

20140528-210328.jpgview out the new screen door

I was greeted by my two kitties, who turned on each other shortly I after I fed them. But hey – progress! Old cat has started fleeing the loft and stealing food from new cat. She’s tiny but feisty.  I have the scratches on my hand to prove it.

20140528-210838.jpgOld cat strikes a pose. or pouts. Not sure which.

To help clear my head, I went for a quick run around dusk. Not my best mileage, but it felt good. (and I looked cute in some Oiselle gear)

 20140529-122035.jpgCreepy leg shot, but I love the brill blue Big O burnout tank and poppy rogas. The bright colors will lift me out of any funk.

Each day is different and that’s so much what I love about my job. As I type this, I am working a split shift, and will run a local road race in the evening with a go-pro camera attached to me. You’ll hear about THAT next week!

mobileI’m a true mobile journalist. Photo by Tina MacIntyre-Yee

How much coffee do you drink each day? Do you have a Wegmans store near you? Any suggestions on how to repair an old farmhouse?