I'd cupped my hands around my mouth to amplify my voice and shouted out into the newsroom in a very stern voice.

I didn't even think.  I just yelled.  The entire newsroom went quiet.  Then a couple of the producers chimed in, "Please. Please help answer the phones." 

The phones were ringing constantly and the afternoon storms were just starting to cause havoc.  My coworker on the desk and I were working to gather information and talking about crews, but we actually hadn't even been able to go over the assignment board at all.  I'd walked out of the afternoon editorial meeting into the rush of covering the storms.

We were working in circles of one another.  He kept saying, "I have a live truck problem!"  I kept responding, "What? Tell me what's going on!"  Every time we tried to talk the phone lines rang.

I was at my limit.  It takes a lot for me to raise my voice in frustration.  Today I had no more patience.  One of the most horrible feelings for me while covering the news is feeling like a chicken running around with my head cut-off.  Today I felt that.  I needed two-minutes to talk to my desk-mate.  I needed help answering the constantly ringing phones.

The interns, and others started answering the phones.  We had our two minutes to go over the crews and make assignments to cover the storms.  The scanners were going crazy with two possible water rescues, lightning strikes and power outages.  Beyond talking to all the news crews, we had to call agencies to get information on the storms that included various sheriff departments, fire and police dispatches, Xcel Engergy, etc.  Answering the phones was just not possible. 

In most newsrooms it's just assumed it's the duty of the assignment desk to answer the phones.  Most of the time, this isn't an issue.  There are times though, that answering phone doesn't even make it in our top 20 priorities.  Covering the news is always the top priority, especially in a breaking news situation like fast moving storms that in the past weeks have spurred tornadoes and flooded homes.

Today's storms were fast moving and in the end left little damage behind.  As the situation calmed a coworker came up to me and whispered to me that I wasn't allowed to talk to the interns that way.  "You can't yell at the interns that way.  That could get us all in trouble.  They're interns; they don't work here and we can't make them do anything."  I felt slapped.

I whispered back, "Yes, if I have to yell to get help I will, intern or not!"  The coworker disagreed with me, but I bit my lip and held back my response.  I wanted to say, "you're right, I should have yelled at every other employed person in the newsroom to help!"  Saying that would have only lead to a longer fight.  I'm not one to fight.  (I'm one to go home and vent to my husband while sipping an extra dirty martini!)

I understand every one of us in the newsroom is trying to cover the news and to do our jobs.  Producers are writing and changing shows.  The web team needs to cover the breaking news in their own way to get the information on the website.  We're all working.  None of us in breaking news has time to answer phones, but it must be done.  You never know when the caller is going to be someone with information on the breaking news.  I know this, so I bit my lip and moved on.

At the same time, I had surprised myself at my yelling.  So I did what was right.  I apologized individually to each of the interns that were in the newsroom at the time of my outburst.  Why?  Was it necessary?  No.  But, it was kind and polite.