Tag Archives: journalism

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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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.”


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.


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

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


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.


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.


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!