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Chicago Crime Reporter Details Mental Toll Of Covering Overnight Shootings

By Mike Ewing in News on Apr 11, 2016 9:59PM

Chicago Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas shares how years covering shootings, fires and other mayhem as part of the overnight beat took a serious toll on his personal well-being in an essay on Medium, posted this past weekend.

Nickeas shares personal details about how his time covering homicides, in particular, caused mental trauma he still struggles with today. Reflecting on this time, he writes:

"It was the pace of it. It was the pace of overnights. Two or three murders on a bad night, or a week where we're at 5 or 6 DOA's in two nights and there's family at each one? It's nothing at the time because it's work but it ends up being something later on, it turns out."

Nickeas also reflects on the lack of support he received from the Chicago Tribune, and interrogates whether or not he suffers from PTSD. At the same time, he acknowledges that his overnight shifts pale in comparison to the experiences his brother, a veteran, had on the battlefield. Nickeas writes:

"I never had to carry a rifle in Afghanistan, I never stepped on an IED, I never shared a moment of locked eyes with a man trying to kill me and killed him instead. Who am I to carry this pall of overnights with me?"

Nickeas' overnight reporting has gone beyond police press releases, putting a face on the anguish felt by family and community members affected by violence in Chicago. It has served as a conduit between Chicagoans surviving gun violence and their neighbors who live in more fortunate addresses. His essay documents the price he paid to do his valuable work, and it's worth reading.