Job at WDN provided foundation for life, career|Novice reporter had reservations about career choice

Published 6:04 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2009

By By CONNIE SPIVEY RHEM Special to the Daily News
I played the tape once. I played the tape twice. I might have even played it a third time. I don’t remember.
What I do remember is this: I’d made a grave error in choosing journalism as a career.
My first night assignment as a reporter for the Washington Daily News was a meeting of Beaufort County Hospital’s Board of Trustees. The newspaper job was my first out of college, and I wanted to succeed, so I taped the meeting to get everything right. Later at my apartment, I thought about the huge mistake I’d made. I couldn’t do this job. Further into my career at the WDN, I realized my job was simply to provide a fair and accurate account of what occurred at a meeting or event. I didn’t need to hear or report every word.
Over the years, I grew more comfortable as a reporter. I grew more comfortable at the WDN and with my co-workers, whom I called the Mikes and Ernie. In addition to Mike Voss, there were Mike Rouse, Mike Hughes and, eventually, Mike Adams. And then there was Ernie Seneca. We had a lot of good times, and I happily remember each of them.
I recall the morning Ernie knocked on the window of my apartment to awaken me after I’d overslept and was 30 minutes late for work. Then there was the day Mike Hughes wheeled me out in a desk chair to Ric Carter’s car. I had dropped an X-acto knife on my foot and was bleeding pretty badly. Ric stayed with me at the hospital.
I’ll never forget my nearly three years in Washington. Those years were the foundation for the next 14 years of my life as a reporter. And they were the foundation for the rest of my life as it turned out. I met my husband, a Washington native, while working at the WDN. Ric took my engagement picture at his home as a gift to me. Gail Pollock, a former WDN society editor, sang at my wedding, also as a gift.
My husband and I left Washington, only to return two years later. He knew the beauty of the city he grew up in. The city made an impression on me as well. And even today I visit often — to enjoy the serenity of the water and the simple beauty of the city and its people.
In many ways, the Daily News and the city of Washington gave me the life I have today. And I’ll be forever grateful.
Connie Spivey Rhem and her husband, Stephen, live in Wilson and have two sons, Spencer and Connor. She is corporate communications manager for Wilson Medical Center in Wilson.