Ryan Report Back Story, Part Two


The incredibly stressful and frustrating nature of journalism often makes me wonder why I continue to do it. There are days when sources drive me crazy by giving me the runaround and sometimes avoid me altogether. There are demanding editors pressuring me to overcome a seemingly insurmountable time limit. There are constant roadblocks and unpleasant surprises that make me want to leave the newsroom and begin looking into law schools with low admission standards and (relatively) low tuition.

And then, miraculously, there is that one moment when all that work pays off. The exhilarating feeling you have after finding a key source and getting the perfect interview just in the nick of time cannot be matched.

At the risk of sounding as if I’m exploiting the terrible child abuse scandal dominating Irish headlines, our interview with Christine Buckley Friday afternoon was one of those exhilarating moments. Actually, Christine deserves most of the credit. Amid constant requests for interviews with journalists and trying to keep her counseling operation open despite economic woes and a staff of just two other volunteers, she gave Bianca and me a 40-minute interview detailing her ordeal as a survivor of years of abuse in Ireland’s Golden Bridges religious school. She also talked in great detail about her work as a counselor and her 25-year-long struggle to make the Irish public aware of the plight of more than 14,000 people who survived mistreatment at the hands of the Catholic Church.

All this came after incredibly frustrating attempts to get in touch with the government, which never responded to our numerous requests; the Catholic Church, which directed us to a bunch of old press releases; and members of Ireland’s national counseling service, who shuffled us between departments before deciding to ignore us altogether. On top of all this, the hotel made our class change rooms, creating a massive distraction on our last weekday in Ireland.

From the moment we stepped out of the dilapidated little building where Christine runs her counseling service, Bianca and I were talking constantly about the story. As soon as we left, we knew we had it—a human interest piece about the problems faced by survivors years after their abuse. We yapped about it on the drive back to the hotel, to Bill and Carol, and to all the other study abroaders.

With Buckley’s interview, we now have the accounts of three survivors. The church and the government aren’t being very helpful, but we can still use their written statements if push comes to shove—something I’d rather avoid doing, but it’ll simply have to do if they’re not willing to talk. Overall, though, I think it’s going to be a really good story.


2 Responses to Ryan Report Back Story, Part Two

  1. cschwalbe says:

    Those are the moments that make the struggles worthwhile. You’ve got a great story, Derek, and we need to find a place to publish it besides the blog. Ideas?

  2. Matt C says:

    Nice work! I know exactly what you mean about all the frustrations and then the payoff of that last-minute interview. Good luck with the story!

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