This week, I had a real “Dorothy” moment. You know these moments – The ones where you say to yourself: “We’re not in Kansas anymore” (unless you are, indeed, in Kansas). It happened in the grocery store parking lot as I pushed my shopping cart back to my car. I saw the mailman had parked next to me and on his minivan door a decal read “Rural Carrier”.
I smiled to myself. Did you know when I first moved to Texas, I didn’t know where the postman delivered our mail? I walked into our living room and said to my husband, “Where does the mail get delivered?”
And he looked at me strangely, “What do you mean?”
I continued. “There’s no slot on our door. I don’t understand where it goes.”
And my husband Leif threw back his head laughing. “Babe, the mail goes in the mailbox…at the end of our driveway.”
What’s worse about this? I had actually seen the mailbox before – I just hadn’t made the connection about how it was used on a daily basis.
I didn’t know where the mail got delivered because I had never actually lived in a house.
I grew up in a flat in San Francisco – the mail was delivered to a slot in our entry way.
When I moved to New York City, mail was delivered to the entry way too (in a brownstone or flat) or to a lobby in a high-rise apartment building – with steel boxes you opened with a key. I honestly never had a free-standing mailbox. Ever.
So…there’s been a lot of change. More than I’ve ever experienced at one time.
But seeing the mailman this week sparked something in me. It made me think about delivery, in all forms. And how much it matters, no matter where you are.
The project I am working on (and you will see sooner than you think) addresses news delivery. Delivery is important; its crucial. Think about it. The way your mail is delivered, or your food is delivered at a restaurant, or the delivery of a joke – it’s an imperative part of the experience. The current delivery of news fundamentally fails a broad swath of the public. I am working to change that trend.
You’ve heard me say it before: I love being a journalist. From connecting with you on social media and otherwise, I understand the deep dissatisfaction with the press; in part because I share it. In order to help, I’ve had to honestly confront where my talents lie; easier said than done. My strength lies not in accounting, organization, mailbox-finding, or meal planning – It’s in story-telling and news delivery.
I like the challenge of taking a topic and figuring out the best way to package it and deliver it to the consumer; taking something very complicated, learning all about it and creatively simplifying it. That’s why I loved my work as a news anchor. And that’s why my next project provides a new way to deliver news.
Ironically…another “delivery” sparked the change that eventually led me to decide to leave Fox News and choose a different path. It’s the story of the delivery of my daughter Liberty; a story few people know and I’ve never discussed publicly. Until now.
On that day, April 5, 2016, I didn’t know what to expect; we hadn’t learned the gender of our baby but I had thought of my Liberty for a long, long time. Her name dates back to a conversation I was having with Leif while he was deployed in Iraq.
When Leif called me from the Middle East in Spring 2010, I was standing at a favorite spot at the base of Manhattan (not far from where the World Trade Center once stood) looking at the Statue of Liberty. As many of you know, when your significant other is deployed, it’s difficult to carry on a conversation over the phone. You never know when a call will come and if you connect, there’s usually a delay in the line; He can’t share with you what’s happening other than generic feedback like: “It’s busy.” So, on this day, we were doing our best to make conversation, which focused often on the future. We both knew a lot of change was coming.
I remember the chilly spring morning created a little haze around the Statue of Liberty, but she still stood as such a beauty. I marveled at the sound of the word “Liberty” and I couldn’t think of anything more beautiful than the meaning behind the word. My great grandmother filed through Ellis Island when she arrived in America from Italy. What a miraculous country that only a few generations later, I lived in New York City and worked as a national broadcast journalist – my American dream.
“What do you think of the name “Liberty”? I said to Leif.
He was confused. “For who?” he replied.
And I said, “For a little girl.”
Leif paused beyond the delay forged by the long-distance call: “I like it.
6 years later, Liberty was born.
Quick and uneventful, her delivery put me at ease. My entire pregnancy I couldn’t shake the feeling of something amiss. In fact, my daughter was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times, yet she came into this world vibrant and strong – and like her name – a fierce catalyst.
But only a few hours after her birth, I watched her hastily rushed out of our delivery room, as I swallowed my panic wondering if I would ever see here again. I knew the moment had arrived; the moment I had instinctually felt brewing. But she wasn’t in trouble; I was.
I can vividly remember the fluorescent ceiling lights. The moment my doctor reached up and hit a red button by my bed, yelling for help. The electric energy of the team surrounding me – their urgency contrasting with the quietness one experiences in chaos when you realize you have a total lack of control.
A massive hemorrhage can defy modern medicine. When you don’t know the source of the bleeding, you can’t stop it. When you can’t stop it, it gets serious really fast. In my experience it came with little warning, violently, and led to a domino effect that frightened me to the core; my body started shaking from shock but my mind cleared and thoughts stilled. I stopped counting people at 12 as my room filled with the medical team preparing me for an emergency surgery. My husband, an experienced combat veteran, says to this day it’s the scariest thing he’s ever witnessed.
Despite the trauma, I had no lasting significant physical effects – no firm explanation other than a sequence of events set up a scenario where the hemorrhage occurred. It was no one’s fault. Simply childbirth. Despite the joys of my daughter’s arrival, I couldn’t help but replay the bone chilling experience in my own mind. The reminder of the brevity of life lingered.
That sobering reminder gifted to me on Liberty’s birthday ignited the courage to make a change. A lot happened between April 5, 2016 and June 2, 2017, my last day as a news anchor on Fox News. I’ve struggled with how to deliver that particular story to you in a way that honors my decade-long experience in its totality and complexity. Right now, I want to focus on the future.
It worries me deeply you feel betrayed by those you’ve trusted to deliver the news; it angers and disturbs me you don’t have more options. I look at my children, I think about this country, and I am moved to tears. Freedom of the press exists as one of the fundamental pillars of America. A healthy press performs an essential public service; The content is paramount but delivery, in every way, matters.
It’s this belief that propels me forward. It’s why when I have days like one this week when I’m told by a senior web engineer that my new “creation” quite possibly “broke the internet,” that I keep going. I could’ve never imagined this journey. Believe it or not, I’m asking a digital platform to perform in a way it hasn’t before, and consequently, we’re uncovering a lot of issues. It’s an invention. Real innovation with highs and lows. But it’s exciting. Invigorating. Maddening. Frustrating. I wanted to show you this venture WAY sooner than now and I haven’t had 48 hours where a new issue hasn’t popped-up. In my producer-mindset, I wanted to create a perfect moment; the perfect delivery.
But guess what?
There’s no such thing.
The perfect delivery is an honest one.
The time is now.
If you follow me on social media, you’ll see the roll out over the next week or so of my new company. I’m still getting organized and figuring out a few things. But I promised you a sneak peek for signing up for my email list and here it is: “SmartHER News.” I’ll explain more later. Right now, I want you to see this product, interact with it and experience it fresh. I’m building it for you, so let me know what you think. Be part of the solution with me.
It may sound corny, but I love the lyric in a pop song by Alessia Cara, “But, you and I, we’re pioneers.” It’s fitting I am developing this highly-technical, innovative website in the middle of rural America where the mail carrier is labeled as such. I feel proud of that. I am proud of where I live. I am proud of all that got me here. Ultimately, we all have a choice; we can trail blaze or not. This was my great move “west” like so many others before me (like my great-grandmother). I imagine the pioneers who came across this same land 100-years-ago also didn’t know where to look for mail; they had it way tougher than me. But they pursued a dream for their life as Americans. It’s my duty, our duty, to continue to build on their dream, isn’t it? Rural mail service and all.
Here’s my new project: www.SmartHERNews.com
I’ll give you the full backstory and walk you through it at a later date. I want you to experience it in full, honestly and without filter.
Email me and tell me what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s more to come. This is just the beginning of the beginning. Let’s venture together.