Tag Archives: newspaper

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.

cereal2

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.

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.

I’m Calling You Out

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When I started this job almost six years ago I was a timid 21-year-old with very little life experience. I was easy to plow over should you want to get your way. I was a pushover.

That, though, was years ago and I’ve added some life experience and work experience to the ole resume.

Since starting out, I’ve been called every name in the book, been told to quit, get a job at McDonald’s and never write another word again. Those comments are easy to write today. Upon receiving them, though, I subsequently went to the bathroom and had a nice little cry before returning to my desk.

Today, I received a snarky comment from a local fire department. That’s right, on my story was a blatantly rude comment from the agency’s own Facebook page.

Back story:

I was given the name of an agency that worked a case by the primary investigators and went on to report that in my story. That agency, however, was not the correct one it was the local fire department.

Instead of calling me, though, they chose to tell me that I was wrong, that I call every day and should have known and said “Angel, thanks for the support” all through Facebook.

The old Angel would have changed the information and never said anything again. The 26-year-old me writing to you now was annoyed that they chose to comment on Facebook rather than call so I could explain what happened.

So I called them.

I spoke with the chief there who wanted to tell me it was a positive comment. I told him I knew better and explained that perhaps, in the future, it would be best just to talk to me so we can work things out as adults.

I’m not unreasonable, but I’m no longer a pushover.

Future journalists — Stand up for yourselves. There’s no need to be rude or disrespectful while doing this but you can certainly explain yourself and ask for a better system to handle whatever problems that may arise in the future.

I guess this whole courage thing is a nice part of growing up in the industry.

Driving Miss Daisy

There are a lot of things that people know about being a career reporter. I mean, heck, who hasn’t seen at least one journalism film (and those are all accurate, right?)

One thing I never thought about was the multitasking. Yes, I realized there would be a million things coming in through the scanner, email and my editors all at once.

I never thought about the multitasking when it came to the driving. I’ve got you now, you never thought of that either.

driving reporter

Yesterday, I was out in a small neighborhood that was struck by a freak storm — I believe the proper term is a straight-line wind event — so I found myself looking for people to talk to, noting the damage in my head and working to distinguish what was from the storm and what was not.

That much thinking while driving a car is not an easy task.

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I was sitting at a stop sign peering at the road ahead of me when I started easing forward then slammed on my brakes.

God was good because there was no car coming, but I realized in that instance that I was so focused on my story that I neglected to give my attention to my driving.

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Being a reporter is a difficult task. You have to be unbiased, you have to be eloquent and succinct in your words, you have to be incredibly persistent and charming to get information.

Add to that list, you have to drive well while never looking at the road. Can we say impossible!?

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Here’s to passing a law that all reporters should get their own drivers!

Worst Jobs of 2012

I’m sure you’ve seen the list, but if you haven’t let me share. Careercast.com has come up with their list of best, worst and most stressful jobs available today.

Not to many people’s surprise, journalism was ranked the fifth worst job to have being beaten only by:

  1. Lumberjack
  2. Dairy Farmer
  3. Enlisted Military Soldier
  4. Oil Rig Worker

I can understand why. It’s an uncertain time and the newspaper business isn’t making money. That’s just a fact.

But since people are making lists, I figured I’d make my own. My best and worst points of being in the field of print journalism.

(We’ll start low so we can end high)

Top 5 reasons to get out or stay away from this career:

1.) Overworked. With the coming of social networking and always new technology reporters are being asked to do more in more ways but the work hours and work pay does not increase.

2.) Under paid. I was never anticipating being a wealthy person. Before I started this my college brought in some very honest guest speakers who laid out the truth so I’ll do that now. Anticipate making $25,000 to start. Then anticipate that number to stay pretty low for the next five years.

3.) Does anyone read this anymore? It’s a dying generation who has a true appreciation for holding a newspaper in their hands. Right now, are you looking through the local paper? No, you’re looking at blogs, using your phone to get breaking news and when all that doesn’t work you will simply Google what you need.

4.) Disliked by … well, all. If you are someone who needs to be liked and get a pat on the back then this isn’t the place for you. Most of your readers will criticize everything you do. Most of your calls will be complaints. And most of the talks with your higher ups will be negative. I guess compliments are more time consuming than most people like.

5.) You get chubby. You heard it here folks – stay in this business too long and your weight will inevitably become a problem. You sit a majority of the day. You can only afford the cheapest food, which we all know has zero health benefits. And your with like people – same job, same bad food habits. Sure you can run and hope that your 20-something metabolism will help out, but eventually it gets you.

Now that the sad part is over, I’m going to give you five reasons why you should come into this business.

1.) People. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have a true passion for people. I meet them everyday. They’re all shapes, sizes and attitudes and I enjoy every minute of it from answering the phones to walking up to total strangers. People make this job worth it.

2.) Adventure. There are very few jobs that allow you to go on an adventure and get paid (albeit a small amount). I’ve sailed, rock climbed, kayaked, paddle boarded, tasted delicious and disgusting treats. Everyday is an adventure because in the print world you have to take the time to get the details like the taste and smells. The expressions. Other media such as broadcast journalism, tend not to stick around too long but us print journalists are there for the long haul.

3.) Co-workers. Yes, we’re all a little grumpy because we’re poor, tired and overworked. But since starting this I’ve met some of the most kind and giving people. I’ve made good friends and found amazing mentors who have taken the time to teach me how to be a good writer, how to talk with people and get the information. Newspaper people are the good ones.

4.) Experience. There’s nothing like working on deadline to get a story out about a plane crash, murder or the police chief being fired. It’s a rush I can’t explain but when the day comes that I will no longer be in this industry I know that the high of working under the gun will be greatly missed.

5.) Watch Dogs of Society. I know I’ve ranted and whined about not having my Woodward and Bernstein moment. But in this industry you get to be part of something bigger than yourself. You hold the officials accountable. You listen to the people and ask their questions. You represent the thousands every time you go to a meeting, pick up the phone and request a document.

6.) Historian. (I know I said five, but its my blog and I can do what I want) You’re making history on every black and white page that is printed. These stories I write will be around much longer than I will. It’s an unbelievable feeling to step inside a business or a home and see one of your stories framed and hanging on a wall or neatly cut and glued into a scrapbook. Can’t do that with other forms of journalism (at least not as nicely).

No, I’m not saying become a journalist tomorrow but I’m also not saying don’t. This is a field that requires a lot of passion because you won’t be rewarded monetarily and you won’t be given many thank you cards. You do it because you care about your community and your government.

WARNING: This is a rant

This morning I walked into the office and my worst fears were met: Someone had turned my computer off.

I gingerly sat down and braced myself for what was about to happen, slowly breathing attempting to get my calm. I plug-in my username and password and then it happens.

Well, I should say doesn’t happen.

My computer took 20 minutes to turn on. 20 MINUTES!

I’m tired of the fight, but it’s continuing on and on and on.

I go to meetings and watch as the executives and advertising reps pull out their company iPads while I pull out my yellow legal pad and the one pen I was allowed to take from the materials closet.

I heard the other day that the head honchos are actually considering getting the advertising department new, that’s right new, iPhones. My flip phone was taken away about two years ago.

Our computers are the oldest in the building, we get the evil eye if we ask for more than one reporter notepad at a time or in too quick of a time frame and there seems to be no change in the future.

Is it me, or should the NEWSroom of a NEWSpaper get some of the goodies?

Send Some Love

I had an amazing opportunity to meet some lovely girls who are working to make a difference in this world.

The neatest part? God made this happen.

My sister, Autumn, came home from Passion 2012 last month and shared with me all she had learned about human trafficking.

Did  you know that right now, as you read this, there are 27 million people enslaved — men, women and children. After talking with her, my eyes were opened to a world I didn’t know existed.

We tried to think of a way to localize it so that I could use my capabilities in the newspaper industry to shed some light on this epidemic.

Wouldn’t you know that the day after I surrender myself God introduces me to Send Some Love, a non-profit organization sending care packages to victims of sex-trafficking.

He is mighty.