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.

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Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the trade: Interviewing

reporter interviewing

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:

reporter interviewing

 

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.

Journalists and Cereal Do Not Mix

cereal

This post will not be brilliant, but I think it will be entertaining never the less. Although, I find myself to be entertaining on a regular basis so I may be biased.

I don’t know why, but not too long ago I was in the mood for cereal for breakfast. But since I wake up and literally roll out the door I just packed my milk, bagged the cereal and went on my way to work.

Most days this breakfast would be fine. I would eat my cereal, read the paper and then start my morning.

But the one day I decide I want cereal there’s a car crash, house fire and missing child.

Now, what is needed for cereal? Yes, that’s right, your hands.

And what is needed for typing up news? Yes, that’s right, your hands.

So I pour my cereal, pour the milk, grab the spoon to dig in and the world implodes.

In the end, I ate mushy cereal 20 minutes later. No one likes mushy cereal. I repeat, no one likes mushy cereal.

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Moral of the story, cereal is the worst idea for anyone in the newspaper business on duty at the time of consumption. Just say no — eat a Pop-tart instead.

Dear Commenters,

A few weeks back my newspaper fell in line with what most newspapers are doing these days: going to paid digital subscription … I mean, giving our readers an exciting opportunity to read the paper online and get a package deal with the print edition.

It makes sense. We’re not going to make money if we’re giving our product out for free.

The reaction of anger and negativity was expected, but to be perfectly frank some of the comments are just plain dumb.

I refuse to comment, reply to emails or speak negatively to those who complain in regards to the paper or my work in general.

I don’t need to condone that behavior or regard their negativity.

But since this is my blog and I live in America, I’m going to take a few moments to respond to some of the comments we’ve gotten.

You create a Facebook page to post articles of interest and ask people to like your page. And now we’re limited to viewing 5 articles in 30 days??? I discontinued my home delivery subscription of 18 years because the quality of reporting had become terrible and you discontinued many of the special features that held my interest. I’m about to “unlike” you on Facebook as well.

Please do “unlike” us because you are clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed any ways. You complain about our reporting but whine because you can’t read our paper. How does that make sense?

Stop being a cheapskate and just spend $10 a month for all the news we provide – which is a lot because we are a daily newspaper.

I understand you trying to sell subscriptions to the paper to the point of not allowing people to view it for free on line. However, if I am a fan of your Facebook page and receive a link to a story, it kind of aggravates me that I can’t even view that link. I just tried to post this on the Spout Off link I got on my page, and I couldn’t even to that! Bwaaaaaa

How dumb would we be to allow you to read stories from our Facebook page and still want people to buy a newspaper. I didn’t go to business school, but it seems pretty obvious. Stop being dumb.

I don’t understand the point of Northwest Florida Daily News posting articles they want us to ready if they are not gonna let us read them! Taking them off my Facebook page because it is pointless to tell me about something, get me interested then put a big “Buy A Subscription” block over the story! Can it be Daily news if I can’t read it!?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? Yes it does. And if you don’t read our paper it still has daily stories.

Duh.

I just visited your website was a pop-up box appeared notifying the that I have viewed my 5 Complementary Articles for the month. Have you all imposed new limits on your website!? Genius way to lose an audience, thats for sure!

I’m sorry for the inconvenience of having to pay for something that does, in all actuality, cost money.

Do you think the news just creates itself?

Do you think that the newspaper’s employees are happy floating through life with no raises, little benefits and whiny people like you.

Geez, Louis.

So I live in Holy and I don’t get the paper out here, also I work from 3-midnight and don’t get to watch the news so I think it’s ridiculous that we have I pay for the news online!! A lot of people depend on this page for information and by charging us its going to cost you a lot if business!!

This one might be my favorite.

We are going to lose business by charging people to read the newspaper?

Do you hear yourself?

The paper cost money to create, operate, gather news, post news. The newspaper is not a nonprofit organization here.

We are a business. We require that you pay for our services just like any other business.

Personally, I’d like to see reporters with tip jars in the future. You like my hard hitting journalism? Then give me a buck!

How I Write

Personally, I don’t find the process of writing a news story all that interesting. I believe this is primarily because it’s what I do – literally, all the time. But whenever I tell someone what I do for a living they seem fascinated by the craft. So I thought I’d share how I write.

writing is hard

This story was written about a local author who published a book that took place in one of the towns my newspaper covers. Typically, when I write, I like to get my lede done first.

Fun fact: A “lede” is newspaper speak for the first sentence of the story. The lede is supposed to intrigue the reader and force them to read the second sentence, which is called the “nut graf.” A nut graf is your informational sentence that leads to the rest of the story.

This particular story, though, was not inspiring. In fact, I hated it. Because of this and so many other reasons, there was a slight struggle in my writing process.

Enjoy the show:

The Taylor family was struggling to survive when they decided to risk it all and make the move from Connecticut to Niceville. Once they arrived, the adventures that ensued gripped and tore at the heart strings.

This is lame and I don’t know how to start it.

Help me.

I’m drowning.

OK, here I go.

… um, nothing’s coming … OK, here I go.

Jonathan Gunger spent five years writing about the highs and lows of family life and says that time was well spent as his book “34/4” hits area book stores.

Eh, this isn’t that good either.

Writing a lede is hard. I think I’m going to quit instead of try and write this.

OK, attempt No. 2

In a time when many say the family dynamic is filled with quick answers that cost a lot, Jonathan Gunger is hoping to inspire others on the importance of working through the hard times in his novel based in Niceville.

That sucks.

It sucks really bad.

Dang it.

It’s All Coming Out

Dear Blogosphere,

I’m going to be honest – it’s been a rough one as of late. I write this post begrudgingly because I feel it is my personal duty to warn anyone desiring to go into the field of print newspaper about how terrible life will be.

Yesterday, I moved back home.

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That’s right. At the ripe age of 26 after working full-time at the same newspaper for more than four years I cannot afford to live on my own.

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I cannot afford to live without roommates and, unfortunately, I’m out of those because who wants to live with a stranger or someone they know they will want to kill within the week?

… So I have two new roommates who go by the names Mom and Dad. As an aside to save whatever amount of pride remains, I heard a recent statistic that 40 percent of people my age are living at home.

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When I first realized this would be happening I cried a lot. This is not where I wanted to be in life.

At 26 I was supposed to be married, in a great job and getting ready to move into my own house or have a kid or buy a big TV.

Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to fit my whole life into a home my parents have set up with the thought that their grown children wouldn’t be needing to come back.

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I love my mom and dad. They’ve been so generous about all of this. They know this is my only option, but it bothers me that I have to do this.

It bothers me that I can’t live in a cheap apartment by myself because I just don’t have enough money for that.

So kids, the lesson today is A.) Don’t go into this field unless you have literally no pride and can suck up living with your mother and father even as an adult and B.) Routinely get rid of stuff because moving is the pits.

Rising from the Ashes

harry Potter phoenix

Similar to the phoenix, I am rising from the ashes. That’s right. I’m over being sad.

For the past month, I’ve been sulking, crying and just having an all around hard time with life in general. The main part of this has been my main problem since I graduated from college: career.

For more details, refer to my last, incredibly depressing post.

But no more.

Phoenix harry potter

That’s right, I am not sad any more. Part of that is choice, but most of it is that I know there is a higher purpose in all of this. God has chosen this time in my life to break me, to bring me down so that I can give it all to him.

It may have taken me a month to truly get here, but I am here. I’ve made it to the other side!

Phoenix harry potter

Instead of moping that not one, but two job opportunities have slipped through my fingers because of a terrible economy and a challenging field to work in I am taking this time to revel in what I do have going on.

Things I don’t have:

Money

Stability

Future plans

Things I do have:

A job, which my mom keeps reminding me that this is a rarity and I should feel blessed.

A great support system. To everyone who witnessed me cry over the past month, thank you. I love you. You’re the best.

Hope for a brighter tomorrow. You can only go up when you hit rock bottom.

Long ago I started this blog as a school project. I was told it was important to be a part of the online community if I wanted to get into the field of journalism. It morphed into my career, following the ins and outs of a newbie journalist.

Now, I think its just about honesty.

I’ve had interns come in and tell me their grand plans for the future. I never want to be someone who crushes dreams, but the reality is that this field is hard. It takes thick skin and a tight pocketbook to make it through just a few years.

I’m about to celebrate my fourth anniversary at the Daily News and let me tell you, I’m tired. I’m not sure how career journalists do it for 20-something years.

For me, this is a learning time. I’m learning how to be the best writer and editor I can be. I’m learning how to work with other people. I’m learning who I am and what I stand for in a variety of issues and circumstances.

So to the youth out there, be careful if your dream is to go into this field. You will learn amazing things and have amazing experiences, but it will also break you.

Just be sure to take those broken pieces and make something good of it.

I know I will. What that will be I do not know.