By Raiza Giorgi
Even though Santa Ynez Valley native Joy Lambert has moved around the country and lived in rough cities, nothing prepared her for what she was about to embark on after moving to Baltimore.
“I knew that Baltimore would be difficult and I had worked in tough markets before, but I had my eyes opened when I moved here. Baltimore had the deadliest year with 350 homicides in 2017, and the feeling was that it was normal and second nature, and it’s not,” Lambert said.
Lambert works for WBFF Fox 45 which serves the historic city, an important sea port and the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.
She decided to shine a light on the issues around homicides and what happens in the aftermath, and her work won a regional Emmy Award from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter.
“This was an important story to tell, and it was heartbreaking to follow these people from the night of an incident to what happens to their families days and months later,” Lambert said.
The year-long project was turned into a 20-minute segment in which Lambert was both reporter and producer. She worked with fellow journalists Alanna Delfino and Christine Lien.
Lambert along with her two colleagues tried to follow all aspects of what happens after a homicide, including hospital staff who are used to seeing multiple patients a night. Some make it and some don’t, and how the staff has to compartmentalize what they are working on.
The segment also follows the families of the victims, the police officers who investigate the crimes, and the attorneys who prosecute the suspects.
“The hardest part of this story by far I had to tell was that of T.J. Smith, the public information officer for the Baltimore Police. He is on the news almost every night reporting on some act of violence, and one incident struck him in particular when his younger brother was killed,” Lambert said.
Smith granted his first interview with Lambert, and the killer was ultimately found and prosecuted.
You can watch the story at foxbaltimore.com/news/after-shock/aftershock-inside-a-year-of-violence.
“This was my first large project and it felt really great to be recognized. It was a complete shock that the same night I won my first Emmy, I won my second Emmy for another project that I worked with my husband on,” Lambert said.
Her husband, Clint Jiras, works as a photojournalist for the station and together the covered a story called “The Cover Up,” in which a local tattoo artist gives free sessions to former gang members looking to cover up gang tattoos. This story won for “serious feature news report,” a highly competitive category in that market.
“That story was inspiring to see, as there are so many great people in Baltimore wanting to make a difference and change the stigma,” Lambert said.
To watch that video, go to foxbaltimore.com/news/local/maryland-moments-erasing-hate-one-tattoo-at-a-time.