Twenty-five-year old Christopher Eberhart is the nighttime breaking-news reporter for the Journal News. Though he’s usually on the other end of the interviewing process, the New Rochelle resident kindly answered our questions about covering late-breaking news in Westchester after dark.
Explain what it’s like working at night. What are your shift hours?
I work 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Depending on what’s going on, the night shift can be hectic, with multiple stories happening at once, which makes it exciting for me. There have been times when I’m on assignment somewhere while working emails, texts, and phone calls on different stories. And they’re usually two very different stories.
For example, one night I was covering a story about a surprise engagement involving the Headless Horseman at an event in Sleepy Hollow while getting information I needed about a car fire. Not all the nights are like that, but I prefer the ones that are.
Are you a natural night owl? If not, how do you stay awake?
I’m naturally more awake at night, so this shift works out perfectly for me. I still drink lots of coffee or energy drinks, especially if I know ahead of time it’s going to be a busy night.
How do you prepare for a night on the job?
I sleep until 10-ish in the morning and laze around for a couple hours. I perk up before 3 p.m. If I’m given an assignment, I read and research ahead of time and maybe make some calls. Much of what I cover are breaking news stories, like fires or major accidents, and there’s no way to prepare for that, except to expect something is going to happen.
What’s the most interesting story you’ve covered as nighttime breaking-news reporter?
There was terrible fire in July in which someone died. I finished my shift and had been home for a few minutes before I got a text from someone in New Rochelle, saying there was a raging fire by City Hall and someone was trapped inside. I stayed at the scene until about 3 a.m., talking to witnesses and fire officials, taking pictures and videos, and tweeting updates. It was a tragic story.
How is the county different in the nocturnal hours, in your opinion?
I’ve only been working the night shift since early summer, but from what I’ve seen, nighttime is a little quieter, but sometimes the stories are more tragic. There are fewer people on the road, fewer people working, fewer people calling you, but I’ve covered a lot of stories about fatalities at night, like fires and drunk-driving accidents.
What’s the biggest misconception about working the night shift, in your opinion?
If people think the night shift is a bad shift, then I would say that’s a misconception. Things tend to happen at night, which makes the job interesting.