Sarah Stultz: Let us do the work so you don’t always have to

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

On Monday I started my work day at 8:30 a.m. as I headed up to the Freeborn County Courthouse for the trial for Ben Moreno.

Moreno is charged with the shooting death of Juan Vasquez Jr. and the attempted murder of Marco Posada, who was with Vasquez in the car that day at the farmhouse south of Albert Lea when shots were fired and Vasquez died.

Email newsletter signup

I had sat in on the trial most of the day on Wednesday and Thursday last week and part of the day on Friday after jury selection took place last Monday and Tuesday. To my knowledge, I have been the only member of the news media at the trial.

I’ve always been interested by jury trials of this magnitude and believe if anyone is facing any potential longstanding consequences for reportedly taking the life of another person, it is the newspaper’s responsibility to keep readers informed of what is happening.

During the course of my time at the Tribune during the last 17 1/2 years, I can count on only two hands the number of trials like this that I have attended.

It’s that uncommon, thankfully, to have such severe charges, so it requires extra attention.

Monday was the last day of testimony for both the prosecution and the defense, and the jury was released early with the expectation of starting closing arguments and deliberations on Tuesday. The lawyers and the judge talked for a little bit about jury instructions, and the judge wrapped up the day a little after 3 p.m.

I ran back to the office to start typing up my notes for a story from Moreno’s testimony that afternoon before running home for a quick 45-minute break and then heading up to the Albert Lea City Council work session that started at 5:30 p.m., followed by the meeting at 7 p.m.

Mondays are one of my long days usually, so it wasn’t unexpected, but coupled in with the wood benches in the courtroom, it was a long day that put some wear and tear on my body.

I was pleased to see the council meeting wrap up early at about 7:30 p.m. and I could get an early start at typing up my story from that meeting and preparing it for our website.

In today’s 24/7 news environment, people expect to have news immediately, so I try to prepare these stories in a timely manner after they occur.

I tell you these things not to complain or to have you feel sympathy for the long day I spent. It’s part of the job, and it’s worth it being able to be a resource for the community, a role I take seriously.

During the council workshop and meeting, I was only one of two members of the public who were in attendance, aside from the elected officials and city staff — and that’s not uncommon.

I hope you will remember this as you go into the future. As a news agency, we aim to attend the meetings and court trials and other events so you don’t always have to, and hope you will rely on us for information from those important meetings.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune.