By Steve Sears
New View Media Group editor Megan Roche, who knows much about editing a writer’s work for publication, also is a fine writer in her own right.
In fact, her talent just garnered her an accolade. Roche was named an International Pain Foundation 2019 Hero of Hope Award winner for a January 2019 cover story she wrote about singer and dancer Paula Abdul and her struggles with chronic pain for iPain Living Magazine.
Roche, who won in the “Media-Journalist” category, and four other winners received their awards on November 15 at the Comic Pain Relief show in Los Angeles, CA. The award winners were recognized in the event program and received a trophy.
“It was such an honor just to be nominated with so many other talented media companies and journalists,” says Roche. “To be honest, when the competition for public votes first began, I wasn’t sure I could actually pull it off. I am also someone who is a fierce competitor, so I wasn’t going to let this award go without a fight. When I got the phone call that I had been successful, I really couldn’t believe it. It meant so much to me to have as much public support as I did. I had so many people reaching out to me to let me know that they voted, had friends constantly sharing my link to vote on social media, I consistently asked people for votes, but I could not have done it without the support of all of those who voted. Whether you cast one vote or voted every single day from every single device you own, I am very humbled and very grateful for all your support.”
Roche learned via a received email a few months after article publication that she had been nominated. The months of July and August were open to public voting, the second year in which the public decided the winner. More than 33,500 public votes were cast, and Roche was her category’s winner with 28.1% of the vote.
Roche explains the background of the article which won her the honor. “I owe this all to someone who has been a part of my life for so many years. When I was 13, I fell in love with American Idol, just like pretty much every other teen at the time. I spent so much time reading up on contestants, learning songs that were sung each week, and I always imagined what it would be like to meet Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul.” Viewing the program led her to take a keen interest in Abdul’s career. “Like any other 13-year-old, I learned as much as I could about her and knew that I wanted to be just like her. When I first met her in 2007, it was a very emotional moment, one that I will never forget.”
In 2018, when Roche learned that Abdul would be headlining at Morristown’s Mayo Center for the Arts, she – at that time a writer for the media outfit she now edits for – pitched the editorial team for the opportunity to interview Abdul. She scored the interview, but a few days after she had written and submitted the article, Abdul announced that due to production delays, she would not be able to open in Morristown as originally scheduled. Roche then searched for another viable angle and market for the piece. “Knowing that Paula suffers from chronic pain, I approached a charity that she has worked with for years to see if they would be interested in my article. The team at iPain Living Magazine gave me the okay and I reworked it and sent it in to hopefully be approved.” Although a familiar subject, Roche stressed over the process somewhat. “As any reporter will tell you, the best thing you can do for any interview is be prepared. When I got the approval to do an interview, it was very tough for me to come up with questions. I also knew that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to have any follow up questions. Throw in the fact that I had a time limit of 15 minutes, I knew this interview was going to be a tough one. While you are probably thinking that this would be the easiest thing in the world for me to write, it wasn’t. I sat up for nights on end agonizing on how I could do this justice. Finally, one day, it all came pouring out of me at 3:00 in the morning. That’s writing in a nutshell. You let it sit and sit and one day it just all makes sense and you are typing away on your keyboard. You really have to trust the creative process.”
The article received lots of positive praise and, for Roche, was monumental. “When I found out that it was the front-page cover story for iPain Living Magazine for the January quarter, I was floored. Not only did I get to write a cover story on someone who I admire and am inspired by, I was able to also get my very first magazine cover story.”
The evening of the ceremony, Roche walked the orange (orange is the color for chronic pain awareness) carpet and did interviews with media that wanted to talk to her about her advocacy work for those who suffer from chronic pain and chronic illness – not an easy task for a reporter. “I’m so used to being the one who asks the questions, and now the roles are reversed,” she says with a laugh. “I also had to make an acceptance speech in front of a pretty large crowd of people. Getting ready for the event was crazy. It’d been a process of finding a red-carpet style dress, preparing an acceptance speech, and booking travel. I think it completely hit me when I boarded the plane to Los Angeles that this was all really happening.”
Roche credits her support system for giving her the strength. “I feel like I need to use this opportunity to thank so many people. I seriously would not have had the opportunity to represent New View Media Group if it weren’t for the people who took time out of their busy schedules to make sure they voted each day. I was really surprised to see the amount of people who came out to support me. From former high school classmates to elected officials in towns I covered for newspapers when I was just starting out, I was stunned and appreciative to hear of all those who supported me. I also want to send a shout out to my friends, Ericca Farrington, Alison Wainwright, Stephanie Kahler, and Jenn Merritt for taking time off from work and accompanying me to California to be my support system for when I accepted my award. It meant so much to me to have you girls there. I also need to thank my family for encouraging me every step of the way toward winning this award. They have truly been by my side and behind me, supporting every crazy idea that I’ve ever had. The list of thanks is so long, but each vote cast helped me get one step closer to achieving my dream of winning an award for the career path that I’ve chosen.”
Roche, who has a Master of Arts with a concentration in Digital Multimedia Journalism from Sacred Heart University, has saved a copy of every article she has ever written. “I enjoy being able to look back at the earlier articles in my career and remind myself how far I’ve come,” she says. “I treasure some of those very first articles I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to see what future articles are waiting for me down the road.” She then sits back in thought, then leans forward. “ My career is slowly but surely taking off. I really want to keep sharing people’s stories of success and overcoming adversity. I would also like to start my own podcast where I interview people who have been through some of the toughest times and highlight the fact that even though we can have lows, it really is all about the climb to the top. I would also like to eventually go back to school and earn a second master’s degree in investigative journalism.”
And yes, she indeed has a copy of the Abdul article – in a very special place. “When I brought her a copy of the magazine so she could see it, she loved everything about it. For me, that approval meant everything. The article that I spent countless nights struggling to write was worth it. She even signed a copy for me and it’s proudly hanging in my bedroom. For me, this really proves that if you dream big, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.”