Still Here, Still Uncertain

Hey, that's me in my cube!

Hey, that’s me in my cube!

It’s been a while, I know. Life has been chaotic, busy and above all else amazing. I still have days where I’ll see a snippet of news from the paper and wonder what was going on, how everything was being handled and have a rush of jealousy that I won’t get to be a part of that anymore.

I miss that.

But now I’m working in a whole new capacity. Hello, I’m Angel and I am the Social Media Community Manager for a large, Christian non-profit organization.

This is my team - web and social media. They're pretty great and always ready to greet the interns in interesting ways.

This is my team – web and social media. They’re pretty great and always ready to greet the interns in interesting ways.

I knew that this job was going to have challenges because my background is newspaper, not social media and there have been some trials.

Each month my department meets for worship, devotions and in this photo to introduce the newbies!

Each month my department meets for worship, devotions and in this photo to introduce the newbies!

All-in-all, God has put such a blessing on my life with this job, this new location in central Florida and the new friends I have made since moving.

Taking a chance like this, especially being somewhat older than the average person changing careers, was not an easy one. But God was faithful, as He promised He would be.

I’ve found that doing social media full time allows for creativity, taking chances and involves a lot of trial and error. I’ll be honest, there are days when I wonder why I was hired – but to be fair I thought the same thoughts while working at the newspaper.

I’m happy. I’m content. I’m not broke.

I know I made the right decision, but a piece of my heart still aches for the familiar background noise of the scanner. The feel of writing something and knowing it will be read by thousands and the amazing stories I would come home with each day.

But I’m finding a home here. I’m finding where I belong and I’m finding comfort in this career with the knowledge that I serve a far greater purpose.

It’s still a transition, almost three months later, but I have a feeling that’s how life goes. I’m always transitioning whether its with a career, a boy, a diet plan, a new makeup trick, a knew way of thinking.

That’s just how life goes and I’m here for the adventure of it all.

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Words That Matter

This week I turned in my notice. Next week, I prepare to leave. Today, I reminisce on the kindness of strangers.

Words That Matter (WEB)

Through the years I have gotten a lot, and I do mean a lot, of hateful emails and even a few pieces of snail mail. It used to phase me, but then something magical happened: I got some kind pieces of mail.

I’ve kept each email that thanked me and encouraged me, because there were some days when I needed to be reminded that I wasn’t the worst journalist in the world.

Reporters embarking on this crazy journey take my advice, hang on to the good and let go of the bad.

With that, I want to share some of the kind words sent to me over the years. I know it’s self indulgent, but it’s my blog and I’m going to do what I want to do!

To everyone who wrote: Thank you.

Thank you for the respectful article you wrote about my Mother for the Daily News. Well done! My Mother was the wonderful person her friends told you she was — and she was so much more. We will miss her dearly. When I spoke to her last this past Sunday she reminded me, as she always did, that “no one knows the day or the hour that their time on this earth will end.” As her neighbor Mrs. Polk said, “it was her time.” Thank you again for the professional coverage.

Good job, Angel V.

My mother/caregiver, Mrs. Black, and I certainly enjoyed your article about the Brain Injury Connection that appeared in the local newspaper today. Thank you for giving such positive insight into a world of mostly misunderstood individuals –people with brain injuries.. Appreciatively, I Remain…

Mr. Conner, Recently, I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of Northwest Florida Daily News Reporters. I would like to congratulate you and the entire newspaper staff for this young person who wase truly and extremely professional, enthusiastic, courteous and  dedicated to her profession.  What a tribute to your staff and the newspaper owners. I would like to thank you for having Angel on your staff.

Angel, thanks soooo much, the article was amazing, and thanks for putting the haven house in the daily news, it’s an awesome place and my nephew is 4 months clean and sober, so when he gets out of there in the next year he will know how to “do life” with out drugs like his mother wasn’t as fortunate to do so as she died 9 years ago due to an overdose, this place and Charles has given me great hope, thanks again for the article! God bless you in your career

I’d like to nominate Angel. As one of the most prolific writers in the newsroom, she turns out an impressive number of concise, endearing features and hard-news crime stories every week in addition to keeping an eye and ear to the public safety beat. Thanks for all your hard work, Angel!

Nice article – we enjoyed it.

Very good.

Your article about this 3 year old moved me.  I have two handicapped children. One was born that way, the other after returning from the Persian Gulf in one piece was hurt by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident.

Thanks for all your stellar coverage of beach safety, including highlighting the flag warning system and your recent story commemorating the anniversary of Black Sunday. It is so important that we do not forget where we’ve been.

Excellent article, Angel!

Good article on the Miss Captive Queen.  I am a past Captain Billy Bowlegs (Capt 55, 2009 – 2010).  I am also on the Board of the William Augustus Bowles MUSEUM and Historical Foundation and Chairman of the Mobile Pirate Museum committee.  We plan to contact Sheila to attend one of our future events and to interview her for our Museum.

I just wanted to thank you for the very nice article that led to a fabulous weekend for me.  We had a wonderful time and I was actually something of a “minor celebrity.”  Our friends, Arlene and York LeCorgne, evidently make great publicists.  Saturday afternoon, I met and had my picture made with Captain Billy and his queen as well as many other members of the Krewe.  This was just intended to be a short visit and a little trip down memory lane for me and it turned out to be almost as much fun as I had back in 1956. Thanks again for your kindness.

Good job on the profile of Dave Urie! I really enjoyed reading it

Just wanted to thank you for your story Wed regarding my journey back into music.  Received many nice compliments  and all said it was very well written and well presented.  Thank you for taking the time to cover this.   I hope someone was inspired to take up something they thought was lost to them .

Angel, Love, love, love your story today on the produce stand honor system. And the desk did a nice job on the presentation to boot! Well done!

nice job on the flood story as well as the lifeguard story. You put us all to shame with the amount of work you get done.

Angel – I’m going to compliment you on the Niceville feature and promise not to use the word “nice!” ;-)  Seriously, it was very well done – I knew it would be when you had all the answers to my questions. Great job!

I saw the article you wrote the other day and it was great! Thanks so much again for the opportunity to be feature, I’m really honored

I call ‘em like I see ‘em – and if that means you get a high number of my “attaperson” emails, so be it! You have a really nice writing style and I enjoyed your lead on jr. lifeguard story (“asked to be the victim.”) Good job!

Great item Angel.  Mary is in the hospital for a few days and I will take your article to her. Thanks Again

Thank you Angel, your article really touched my heart and made my Moms day, she so deserves that and so much more…God bless you.

Hope you had a nice weekend.  I just wanted to say thank you again!  The article was awesome.. and I’ve gotten so many calls and folks approaching me about wherever I go!   Katelyn was incredibly excited! Thank you for sharing her courage and spirit…with the community.   This is what we strive for… for all of our children who come to the Center..that they grow into healthy, strong individuals…   These will the children that change our world….

Wow!!! What a splash. What a thoughtful way to make a guy feel good about himself. I am very pleased with the story, and thank you very, very much. And thank you for getting the pictures to me. And thank Wendy for assigning the job to you. I enjoyed getting to know you.  A grateful friend,

I nominate Angel McCurdy for working so patiently with our summer intern.

I nominate Angel for being such a team player every day. She’s always willing to do what’s needed and does it with a great attitude. She makes us look good every day and helps keep the newsroom upbeat.

Angel should be recognized for taking on the Crestview PD news conference Friday, even though she already had two other stories on her plate. Thanks for stepping up whenever we need you!

I greatly enjoyed your lovely story about Jonathan and his novel “34/4″.  I know Jon did, as well.  Thank you for your time and interest, and for writing such a wonderful piece.  When the sequel is done you will be the first to know!

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me the other day, and for writing such a wonderful piece about my novel. Your words were very kind, and they meant a great deal to me. I am sending Dennis a signed copy for you. I hope I have the opportunity to thank you in person in October when I’m in town.

Thank you so much for the lovely article on our efforts at the Destin Library.  Very good timing, since the Destin Garden Club is meeting at the library today. I feel sure your article will draw more people to the library to take a look , perhaps sit awhile and read the Daily News.

I nominate Angel for her limitless creativity and passionate persistence in reminding the rest of us to acknowledge our peers’ excellent work. Although her most recent effort contained a few questionable rhyming schemes, it brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. You are right, Angel, we do hold you dear!

I’d like to nominate Angel for caring about her co-workers and seeking to celebrate our successes, boost morale and even, in the case of her recent poem, infusing us with an early dose of Christmas spirit. I don’t know where heaping cup would be without Angel’s above and beyond effort, and if that isn’t deserving of the heaping cup, I don’t know what is!

For the Heaping Cup, I would like to nominate Angel. I’m not a fan of story counts, but I’m guessing that she is at the top of the list for the most stories written every week and month. On top of that, she wrote a pretty great poem urging us to nominate coworkers this week and that put a smile on my face. Well done.

I love the article.. you did a great job on it.  I am so glad that you were the one that did the story as well.  It was  nice seeing you again today and telling my story.   Hope to see you again in the near future.

Just wanted to compliment you on the wonderful article you wrote about me.  I have had  so many people respond to it and told me how much they loved it!!  Thanks for a job well  done!!!  I was so happy to see you again as well… keep in touch!

Angel, you are a gifted writer and I’m glad you were able to do Nancy’s article! Thanks again.

I wanted to personally thank you for participating in the Fire Ops class yesterday.

And it goes without saying; you always have an open invitation to spend some time with our men and women in the firehouse and respond with them to emergencies.

I also would like to thank you for the two fantastic articles in today’s paper!  City leaders often find themselves having to make important decisions that directly affect the staffing, equipment, and service level of the fire department.

I know you have to consort with some shady types as a reporter, but boy, you really took one for the team by having to associate with the lifeguard/models on the beach for the story today.    The lengths we will go to do good job ….. Thanks for your sacrifice.

Hello. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing the story about Mike Adam. Your efforts in helping this family have made such a difference and with all we do in our daily activities, work, grocery shopping, endless amounts of time stuck in traffic trying to get to our next mundane daily life ritual, sometime we don’t notice that we’ve made a positive impact. That we’ve truly made a immeasurable difference in someone else’s life. So I wanted to take a moment to tell you thank you for helping to save Mike. Their story and the time you took to listen to it and write about it truly appreciated and I wanted to make sure you noticed the selfless thing you did. Even if you think it was just another day on the job. Sincerely,

I just wanted to send you a HUGE thank you!  You did a wonderful job profiling our Royal Sparklers team at Beach Elite Cheerleading!  We’ve already received calls and emails from people interested in knowing more about the squad and how they can help.  I’m so glad their story touched you as much as it has all of us.  They’re such a wonderful group of people and we’re so proud of every accomplishment they achieve!  We’ve crowned them our Royal Cheerlebrities.  :)

You make every day brighter at the Daily News. Thank you for all you do for all of us!

Wonderful coverage from an intrepid reporter. Best Always!

I would like to nominate Angel McCurdy. In what can sometimes be a stressful, fast-paced work environment, Angel is a pleasure to work with. She has a great attitude and a warm regard for all her co-workers that reminds me of all the good there is in this work family we have, even on the hardest days. Thank you for that, Angel. Also, her Thanksgiving decorations were the perfect addition to make the lunch feel special.

I nominate Angel and Wendy and Tracey and Ken for their work on last Sunday’s A1 package. It looked new and fresh and very readable. Good job, guys.

I nominate Angel for her unflagging cheer and ongoing efforts to make our workplace a pleasant one. The conference room was beautiful for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. Many thanks, Angel.

I wanted to say what a great job you did on the article about my Dad.  Some of the ladies here couldn’t believe the resemblance between us.  When I was a child, I loved to hear stories my Dad would tell about the war.  He is definitely a hero.  The day I enlisted in the Marines, I brought home my paperwork and he looked it over.  His eyes got wide and he went to the filing cabinet in the office we had at the farm.  He pulled out his induction papers and showed them to me;  Oct 23, 1942.  My induction date: Oct. 23, 1985.  When he came to my graduation, he said he got chills down his spine just thinking about how tough Marine Corps boot camp was.  (It wasn’t any easier when I went through, but don’t tell him that!)  Once again, I want to thank you for the great article.  He truly is a remarkable man.

Daily News photos have been seen around the world. A photo taken by Angel of a frozen fountain against the sunrise was shown on the on the nationally televised Today show.

Instead of wading through transitions between quotes, I just got quotes!  Much easier to read! Thanks!

Just wanted to say you’re doing great this morning; I see your stuff on Twitter, etc. Don’t write back; you’re busy. But it’s appreciated!

My dear young lady you and your young troop have have made this old 1st sgt and his lady very happy. We laughed and and enjoyed our few minutes of being famous. That to you guy and gals

It’s with sadness that I share with you the news that Angel McCurdy’s last day will be March 12. She has been a strong and inspiring part of this newsroom for almost five years and we will miss her cheerfulness, productivity and party-planning. Please join me in wishing her well!

Good luck to you, Angel.  I’ve enjoyed working with you, with mutual trust, as well.

Ah, Angel, thanks for letting me know.  Best of luck to you — you’ll be great! It was always a pleasure to work with you, too.

Just read your blog entry. Thank you for your honest and fair reporting throughout the years. You will be missed. Hope your new venture is a good one.

So Long Daily News, and Thanks for All the Fish

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There is no way to put into words what the last five years have been like for me. I came into this newspaper as a young reporter with no clue what she was doing and am coming out a different person.

On March 12, I will be leaving the Daily News’ doors for the last time and will start on a new adventure and out of the news business.

I leave with nothing but respect and love for the newspaper. I hope the community understands what a true gift they have with the Daily News, and I don’t mean the newspaper they get each morning.

Sitting in the building at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Eglin Parkway are some of the finest people I’ve ever met. They have mentored me, fought for me, loved me. They have become a family to me.

To each person at the Daily News, thank you.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your world. Thank you for guiding me when I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, which probably can still be said even today. Thank you for inspiring me every day to fight for what I wanted and fight for the readers.

I can’t begin to say how much I will miss you all and our amazing adventures.

In two weeks I will be starting a career outside of everything I’ve known for the past six years. The only career I’ve had, honestly.

To say I will miss it is an understatement.

To all the Daily News readers, thank you for letting me into your homes, in your scrapbooks, on your walls and, for some, into your hearts.

I’ve loved every minute of it.

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What is “free” news?

Recently, the Washington Post published a Rachel Maddow column that caught the attention of all of my co-workers, and I’m sure other journalists out there who are continuing to fight the good fight.

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Every day I see people upset about online paywalls and subscription costs citing that news should be free.

Why? Why should you get to read my hard work, my days labor for free while I make just above minimum wage? Why are you OK with paying for cable but not your local newspaper? Why is it OK to pay a toll, give tax on food or spend money on phone apps that make you look fatter than you actually are?

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It’s exhausting to be in this position today. I want my two degrees I worked hard for to pay back, when in reality McDonald’s workers make just $3 less than me. I won’t continue to complain, but please take a minute to read this excerpt:

Most of the time, national news happens out loud: at news conferences, on the floor of Congress, in splashy indictments or court rulings. But sometimes, the most important news starts somewhere more interesting, and it has to be dug up. Our democracy depends on local journalism, whether it’s a beat reporter slogging through yet another underattended local commission meeting, or a state political reporter with enough of an ear to the ground to know where the governor might be when he isn’t where he says he is, or a traffic columnist who’s nobody’s fool.

It’s annoying to pay for information — I know. But if you don’t subscribe to your local paper or pony up to get behind its online paywall, who’s going to pay reporters to cover the news where you live? A free press isn’t that kind of “free.” An accountable democracy doesn’t work without real information, gathered from the ground up, about people in power, everywhere. Be inspired by the beleaguered but unintimidated reporters of Chris Christie’s New Jersey: Whatever your partisan affiliation, or lack thereof, subscribe to your local paper today. It’s an act of civic virtue.

Lofty Goals for a Lofty Life

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A little while ago I started to write a list of “lofty goals” that entailed building a shelf for my pulitzer prize, having a pre-written obituary (because only very important people have obituaries written before they are dead), sell a perfume named after me, be stopped anytime I’m in public for my autograph (so annoying, but it’s for the fans).

Today in the grocery store as I hid my head in my ball cap from people I knew from high school I realized my goals may need to change direction.

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I think the goals are looking more like finding a job, living without the parental roommates, being in a place where I’m not embarrassed to run into someone from the past because life is good.

Life’s not terrible now, I know that. I have a roof, I have food, I have employment. But I’ve always wanted more and right now more just doesn’t seem to be coming.

I want to not hide my head under my cap, which was also hiding greasy hair and a no-makeup face.

Now, how to get there and achieve my lofty goals? Angel by Angel perfume hitting stores soon!

The Time Has Come

“The time has come the,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things;

Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax

Of cabbages and kings

And why the sea is boiling hot

And whether pigs have wings.”

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Recognize this from a little book about our favorite curious blonde Alice (Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There)? My sister and I in our weirdness love to recite this anytime we’re ready to go or wanting to sound more intelligent than we actually are (notice I didn’t say it actually works for us.)

I graduated in mid-December and the hunt for jobs has begun. I’m still interviewing, still looking but the reality that my time at the newspaper is winding down is beginning to sink in.

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I have loved, hated, loathed and feared this place in my nearly five years working here.

I’ve become a better writer and reporter at the Daily News. I’ve made some close friends here, established mentors here and found my voice here. I became a journalist here.

It was sink or swim from the beginning. But in time it happened. I figured it out.

Newbie journalists out there, it will happen for you too. It’s not an industry you’re just awesome at, but its an industry where you have to work hard, make mistakes and learn from them, hopefully.

I cry a little when I think about leaving this place. It’s been hard these last few years because of pay challenges, corporate strongholds and the decline in newspaper sales, but I will miss all this.

I’ll miss the chase of the story, the camaraderie I have with my co-workers and the satisfaction of reading emails and letters from locals who enjoyed the stories I wrote.

But, as the Walrus said, the time has come.

A new challenge awaits. My employers here have been so encouraging through earning my degree and now my seeking employment in that field. I cannot possibly find a way to thank them for everything they’ve done for me.

Instead, I’ll just work as hard as I can and when the time comes that I can mentor someone and be there for them in their career I can only hope I will give as much as I’ve received.

Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the trade: Interviewing

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My co-worker was a guest speaker at an area high school and the topic of discussion was interviewing. She asked all the reporters to put their tricks of the trade down and her results were so fantastic I thought I’d share here:

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Before the interview:

•Take time to research the subject for your story if you’re unfamiliar.

•Jot down a few questions you’d like answered by the end of the interview.

•Grab at least two extra writing utensils.

•Check the meeting location and ensure you know exactly where it is before you go.

•Plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You don’t want to keep your source waiting and this allows time to get lost or find a parking space.

•Have an attitude adjustment. Let go of whatever is happening in your personal life (good or bad) and put on your professional cap.

•Be prepared for other people’s emotions. You should be respectful of them, but not paralyzed by them.

 

When you get there:

•Don’t jump right into the questions. Introduce yourself and make some small talk.

•Never be afraid to reveal a little about yourself. Where you go to school, a sports team you like or some hobby. Give the source a reason to remember you’re human, too.

•Make eye contact.

•Avoid yes or no questions. You’re not proposing to the source, so a yes or no isn’t going to get the job done.

•Stop talking. Not filling the silence is one of the hardest, but arguably most important lessons to learn as a reporter.

•Ask hard questions, but make it clear you’re just doing your job. Most professionals respect that.

•If you don’t understand, ask. One of the worst mistakes a journalist can make is to leave without fully understanding the issue. If you couldn’t explain the topic to your mother use the other person’s expertise until you do.

•Know when it’s time to walk away. Sometimes people can be interesting, but not useful to the story. Politely move along. A looming deadline is always a valid reason to keep moving.

•Don’t try to write down every word said. Ideally you’re looking for “sound bytes.”

•Ask for contact information and save it in a file. You never know when you’ll need someone for a story again.

•Before you leave, ask the person if there’s anything they’d like to add. Interesting pieces of information come up this way all the time.

•Thank them for their time, but don’t make promises you can’t keep, i.e. what day the story will run because in this business, plans change in the blink of an eye.