Archive for June, 2008

SUMMARY: what i learned this week, June 2-6

Things I learned this week…

1. Letting your editor and coworkers know what interests you can REALLY help you out in the path to writing about what you truly love.

2. I am still awful at headline and deck writing but there have been some improvements. Alliteration helps.

3. You can put slight adjustments on kerning and playing around with the pullout air size that can help a lot in making stories fit onto the layout.

4. Taking pictures and talking to senior citizens is nice.

5. I say um too much between my questions when I interview people, I need to work on that.

6. But when people praise you for being a good interviewer, it’s a really good feeling (even though I felt I could have done better).

7. Making eye contact with people you interview face to face is a good interviewing thing to do.

8. Trying to make the interview more like just a casual conversation is also a really good interviewing thing to do.

9. But pausing between question/answers to look down at what my next question should be is awkward and I should learn how to do that less.

10. I really want to write a column about the reality shows I watch.

More next week…


June 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

RECAP: my fifth week at a small newspaper

Monday, June 2:
Monday was a very good idea because not only did I have a story idea, I was also assigned 3 other stories to do! Having my own story idea meant I was stress-free when the story meeting came around and the additional stories that were assigned to me meant I wouldn’t be bored this week and so it was!

I came up with questions and made phone calls for my story idea all of Monday. Once again people were not in their offices and I was sent to several voicemails but luckily most called me back before the day ended.

Overall it was a very productive day.

Tuesday, June 3:
I started coming up with questions and making calls to two of the stories I was assigned as well as called back some people who didn’t return my calls from Monday.

I was worrying however because, of course, the person that I needed a quote and statement from the most for my story idea was the hardest one to get a hold of and by the end of the day I still hadn’t talked to her so I frantically sent some emails pretty much begging (but in a professional way of course) her to call me back before 11:00AM tomorrow because after that time I’d be out taking photos of events and covering the event that was to be my 4th story for the week.

Other than the fear that the-most-important-aspect-of-my-story-might-not-call-me-back, Tuesday was also a very productive day.

Let’s stop now, Monday AND Tuesday? Both productive days? I was busy for both 8-hour days? I wasn’t bored? Say what? By Tuesday I was thinking this week is easily turning into one of my most favourite weeks working here thus far.

Wednesday, June 4:
Thank goodness for voicemail.

Actually, I have a side story about my voicemail but I’ll get to that later.

When I got into the office Wednesday morning I had a message from the-most-important-person-of-my-story! Thank god. Literally a wave of relief flushed through me. I called her back and after the 4th ring my face was pretty much scrunched up in a Oh-my-gosh-please-pick-up-please-pick-up-please-pick-up kind of way.

She picked up.

She was actually out of breath she said she had to run for the phone, haha.

Anyway I interviewed her and got the most important part of my story down and was super stoked that that was all finished by 9:30AM. Whereas normally if I was finished something before 9:30AM I would be dismayed because that meant I’d have less to do for the rest of the day, Wednesday was a busy day so I was pleased I got that out of the way fast.

Tuesday I wrote one story that was assigned to me, Wednesday after I finished the interview before 9:30AM I wrote the story for the other story that was assigned to me.

Actually I really liked that particular story I wrote because I felt my descriptive words made the story seem dramatic but in a light-hearted way, which is always fun to read. So I was happy with that story quite a bit.

Anyways, after I wrote that I had to go to an event which was the fourth story that I was assigned I went there, listened to the people talk, took a picture or two, hung around while the Global TV guy interviewed one of the speakers afterwards, and then went to a different site to take a picture of another event (it was just a picture opportunity not a story opportunity.)

Turns out the office camera I was using reached its space limit shortly after I got to the picture opportunity event and I wasn’t sure if the pictures had been uploaded to the other reporter’s computer yet so I had to find some blurry pictures and delete them to make room and then I took pictures very sparingly at the event but I got some okay shots. Senior citizens are adorable.

After that picture opportunity there was another one I had to go to and the office was on the way so I decided to stop by and either upload all the pictures onto the other reporter’s computer or ask if she had already done so. Turns out she had them already she just forgot to delete them before I took the camera so after I deleted the pictures and took a new battery, I left the office again to go to the other picture opportunity.

That one was located at a place that was pretty difficult to get to. I had Google mapped it and got directions but I really wasn’t sure if I was going the right way after some turns in the road. When I was just about to turn back and backtrack I saw a bunch of cars parked together in the distance and I thought well maybe they’re parked there for the event I’m supposed to take pictures for, and it turns out that’s exactly why all of those cars were there. Yay for not turning back too early and for using deductive skills in order to determine why a big group of cars in the middle of nowhere would be parked together. (P.S. the place I went to was a golf and country club so it was pretty much out in the clear fields and no population type of area where girls like me who run into car trouble would likely be kidnapped or sexually assaulted on the side of the dirt road, statistically speaking, lol.)

Anyway, took some pictures there, went back to the office, uploaded pictures, labeled pictures, finished all of my stories AND there was a computer with working InDesign available for me to use right at 5PM!

So I was stoked.

I ended up staying until about 8PM anyway though.

But it’s okay because I laid out a lot of pages and I think my headlines and decks didn’t suck all that much! (Really though, being clever with heads and decks is so difficult.)

I also am starting to learn a few extra tricks that I can do while laying out the stories in order to make stories fit and things like that, so that’s great.

Before I go onto Thursday I’ll talk about my voicemail story briefly:

I keep trying to change the voicemail message on my phone and it keeps rejecting it! I mean it’s not like flat-out rejecting it, it says ‘Message saved’ or whatever, then I call back to test it out and the previous person who used this phone’s voicemail is still there! It’s very annoying. Even the editor & the other reporters don’t know how to help me. Thankfully the previous person’s message isn’t long or it doesn’t even say her name it says something that is inaudible and lasts for about one second, then the beep comes on. So oh well. The other news reporter’s phone used to belong to the former editor here and his voicemail is still on it and she hasn’t changed it yet either (or perhaps she is running into the same problems I am!!) and so It’s a little worse for her since her voicemail is a guy’s voice talking and saying he’s unavailable.

Thursday, June 5:
Copyedit, same as every Thursday.

The newspapers I usually read for story ideas weren’t in the office today so I read the news online trying to muster up some ideas, I perhaps came up with one but I’m not that thrilled about it. I am hoping that stuff comes up that I can be assigned to go cover for next week. Banking on it, really.

I interviewed two people from a organization for a story that was assigned to me for next week already. They were really nice and afterwards one lady, who used to be a secretary at this newspaper coincidentally enough, told my editor that I was a great interviewer with a great personality. I was pretty stoked about that.

The biggest thing that happened today which I am extremely excited about, I’ll run through how the conversation went about.

Editor: Linda does Canadian Idol start tonight?
Me: No it started on Monday.
Editor: Damnit!
Me: What why?
Editor: There’s supposed to be a Paul Kane student here in St. Albert that auditioned and made it far I guess because there were camera people here a while back filming his ‘back story’.
Me: Ohh really! That’s so cool, but yeah Monday’s episode was the Edmonton, Calgary auditions too so he would have been in that.
Editor: Oh well, listen I’m going to make you our Canadian Idol Bureau Chief, are you okay with that?
* Me being excited for the rest of the day *

I mean, to be fair, I don’t like Canadian Idol. I like a lot of reality shows, but let’s keep in mind most reality shows are American. The Canadian spin-offs I don’t find are as interesting. EITHER WAY, to be able to write my opinion and recaps about an entertainment reality show, it’s like one step closer to helping me put my foot into the entertainment journalism door. And I could not be more excited.

When I went home I found the episode online and watched it to see if I could catch the St. Albert kid but they didn’t show him! Which leads me to conclude that if they did film his back-story, they’re going to be showing him during the Toronto week…

If he makes it past Toronto week, GREAT, I’ll be able to write more about the show and about him, but even if he doesn’t, at least I’ll have the one story during Toronto week where I can write about him.

Either way I was pretty excited and so happy that I had gotten the message through to my co-workers that I love entertainment and reality shows.

Friday, June 6:
I find that there really isn’t much point in coming in on Fridays.

Right now as I write this it is 10:27AM on Friday, the editor is in, the sports reporter doesn’t come in on Fridays all, and the other news reporter who is usually here Friday mornings, is absent.

I am wondering when I can leave too because this is highly unproductive.

But I won’t ask to leave because I don’t want to make a bad impression of course.

Biggest thing that happened today so far:


You can pretty much imagine how excited and happy I got.

I joked around saying, ARE YOU SERIOUS? Don’t dangle this and then take it away from me! And things like that, which the editor & I got a laugh out of. Haha, he said he’s pretty sure no one else here would want to cover it anyway so the job is all mine.

The thing is I think SYTYCD Canada starts in the Fall when I’m done working here and back in school… but you know what that is in no way going to stop me. If there are St. Albert people in the show I will freelance write with the paper during school or something I don’t care there is NO way I am passing up a chance to write my opinion recaps and reviews about SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. COME ON. 😀

So happy.


June 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

SUMMARY: what i learned this week, May 26-30

Things I learned this week…

1. It’s annoying when people don’t call you back.

2. It’s annoying when people are never in their offices when you call them.

3. It makes me wonder how working at a daily paper would work, if people don’t get back to you right away…

4. Wednesday’s are really, really long days.

5. I really do love being paid.

6. Taking pictures of people and asking for their names is getting easier and easier.

7. The ‘how does this relate to this city’ factor is so important in story ideas.

8. I get pretty disheartened when I don’t have any story ideas.

9. I’d like to start learning how to take more interesting pictures but …

10. If you can get a close up shot of any one reacting to something, laughing, crunching up their face, some expression that is interesting, then that makes for a great photo even if there is no leading lines or layers or artsy photography things like that.

More next week…

June 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

RECAP: my fourth week at a small newspaper

Monday, May 26:
So today was pretty much a suckfest.

I couldn’t come up with any other story ideas over the weekend so I came into the story meeting with just my one more-Edmonton-than-St.Albert-related-senior-citizens-story. My editor said if I can find a St. Albert connection to the story then it would be good but if I can’t then, well, it’s not much of a story..

I made a phone call and there is a SLIGHT chance there could be a St. Albert connection to the story but the lady is supposed to email me when/if she figures that out or not and as of 4:32PM Monday, I haven’t received an email back.

I made another phone call related to the story but the lady I wanted to speak to wasn’t in, so I’ll be waiting for her to call me tomorrow.

If I don’t get an email or phone call from either people by let’s say after lunchtime tomorrow then I’ll call them both back but if I don’t get a St. Albert connection to this story then basically I don’t get any clippings in the paper this week.

There isn’t even any event to really cover. The editor himself mused that it seems like there won’t be enough news for the paper this week.

I am extremely bummed out.

I spent the majority of today thinking of possible story ideas.

I may have an idea that I’ll look into further tomorrow (it’s Monday as I right this), so if I’m lucky I’ll have minimum one story in the paper this week, maximum two. Either way, it’s not impressive at all and it’s definitely going in the wrong direction, from 4 stories last week to 2 stories this week (or even 1 story, or no story at all), I’m pretty sad about that.

Hopefully something will come up that I can maybe be sent to go cover or something… here’s hoping.


Tuesday, May 27:

I was pretty desperate for story ideas yesterday, and was trying to think of Edmonton issues that I could slap a ‘How would this affect St. Albert’ approach to. While I was driving home Monday after work, I saw a St. Albert Taxi cab and I remembered the issue of how Edmonton might impose safety shields in all cabs in the city.

Could this turn into a provincial law?

Would St. Albert area taxi companies support this proposal?

Could this be a story?

Were all questions that ran through my head after I saw the cab. And so it was, I spent Tuesday morning coming up with questions for St. Albert taxi company owners, finding their contact numbers, finding a contact number and coming up with questions for an Alberta transportation spokesman. I also came up with questions to ask an Edmonton city councillor who is advocating the proposal.

I also was waiting for the lady I contacted Monday about whether or not my seniors Edmonton-related story had any St. Albert connections, but unfortunately she didn’t email me back all day, which definitely left me feeling more than bummed out.

At around 2PM that day, I was sent to take pictures at the first day of the International Children’s Festival. I spent about 2 hours at the festival and took some pictures of kids eating ice cream, getting their faces painted, interacting with some street performers, and some shots of the Alice in Wonderland Jr. musical that I wrote a preview about in last week’s edition (which I realize I didn’t provide a link to the story in the last recap blog, I will add one for this week’s.)

That was my Tuesday. It was considerably a lot better than Monday in that I wasn’t as severely depressed at not having story ideas, but I was still slightly worried about the no-St. Albert connection for the seniors story, and when I called the transportation spokesman and the city councillor, they weren’t in their offices. (typical).

Still, all in all, Tuesday was a pretty good day. As far as work days go.

Wednesday, May 28:

I got into the office about 20 minutes earlier than I usually would because I knew that the Edmonton city councillor had a council meeting at 9:30AM so I wanted to catch him before then.

When I came into the office I already had 2 messages from the councillor and from the transportation guy. I called them both back before 9AM (which is something I wouldn’t normally do because generally that means I’ll have less to do later in the day and will therefore be extremely bored for the majority of the day), and the city councillor was super helpful, while the transportation guy – not so much.

I don’t blame the transportation guy though, I had targeted the wrong person to ask my questions to and I didn’t figure out who I needed to ask until around lunch time. Then the person wasn’t in, because it was lunchtime, and after lunch when I called, he was in a legislative meeting.

His statement is pretty much the driving force of the taxi story.

I wrote the story anyway, without his statement, and put that he could not be reached before deadline. I think without his statement the story is considerably weaker and maybe not as news-y, but I still got great reaction from two main St. Albert taxi companies, and a good quote from the Edmonton councillor, but a St. Albert councillor or the important guy in the legislative meeting – the St. Albert MLA, would have added a considerable amount of credibility to the story.

Not to say the story isn’t credible, but it turned into more of a ‘What if’ rather than a ‘This could happen in the near future therefore it is newsworthy’, kind of situation.

It is also important to note that I also tried to call 4 different St. Albert city councillors for their opinion on the issue but they all, lo and behold, could not be reached. If you base this day on the fact that I couldn’t get a hold of these important government figures for my story, then my day sucked.

But thankfully today the girl who said she’d look for a St. Albert connection for me for my seniors story came through with an email and a contact number to someone whose going to be presenting at the seniors festival in Edmonton, who comes from St. Albert.


I was pretty stoked.

I did some quick research, came up with questions, called the guy up, and he was really nice and gave me some great quotes!

So originally my craptastic seniors story with like a 5% St. Albert spin turned into a 100% St. Albert story that I’m really happy with, whereas the taxi story which I thought would save my ass for the week, turned out, still nicely written (not to be cocky, I just think I write good ;)), but not as great a news story as say, the bar regulations story I wrote last week.

Wednesday, let us remember, is also laying out the newspaper page day which can also be referred to as Linda Sits and Does Nothing While Waiting for a Computer with a Working InDesign to Become Free, day.

And so it was.

It’s 4:43PM as I write this and I am simply killing time, waiting for one of the other two reporters to leave to cover some sort of sports or council meeting, so I can take over their computer, lay out some pages, and go home as early as I can.

I suppose we can also refer to this day as The Day Linda Writes Her Blog day.

Thankfully last Wednesday it only took me about 30 minutes to layout 4 pages, (technically I was assigned 6 pages but 2 of them were full ad pages and the ads/sales people do the ad layouts).

I’m hoping this week a similar situation arises.

Also: Even though I only have two stories in the paper this week, (hey, better than one, and certainly better than none), some of the pictures I took at Sunday’s Rainmaker Rodeo and carnival will be featured in the paper this week, as well, some of the pictures I took yesterday at the Children’s Festival will also have it’s own little section in the Weekender section of the paper. Yay!

I’m going to say the multiple pictures form it’s own story and therefore I wrote three stories this week. 😀 Haha.

P.S. I don’t know whose still actually reading this blog, (Actually I can answer that, no one or 1 person if my Blog Stats page is any indication) but I think my days are getting more interesting to read, is that just me thinking that?

P.P.S. I was feeling sick by the end of Wednesday, not sure why, but I didn’t leave the office till abut 8:00PM.

Quoting back from a few paragraphs above when I wrote ‘I’m hoping this week a similar situation arises,’ apparently that was not the case.

Feeling ill plus my head wasn’t really into laying out and thinking of good headlines and things = Wednesday night was not a good night for me.

Thursday, May 29:

I went into the office in the morning and did copyediting as per usual Thursday routine but whatever was bugging me last night carried over into Thursday because by 11:00AM I was feeling awful and since I was done copyediting and would most likely have done nothing for the rest of the day before leaving (except adding to this blog), I asked the editor if I could just head home and rest up and he let me. Yay for nice editors!

Friday, May 30:

Nothing ever really happens on Friday and such was the case for this one. Early day Fridays is what I should start calling it.

ALSO, today was payday.
Which means Linda = Happy.

Thus ends the week.


June 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm Leave a comment

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