Archive for July, 2008
Things I learned this week…
1. I’m not a cold and heartless reporter who disregards the requests of an interviewee, which is a good thing… I think.
2. It took 10 weeks, but an ethical-related situation has arisen in my ‘career’ here at this small newspaper and I made my choice and I stand by it. (Haha, this sounds so dramatic, it wasn’t, honestly).
3. Calling corporate head office isn’t as scary as it sounds.
4. And corporate head office people aren’t as scary or snobby as you would think they are either.
5. I really do work at extremely slower speeds here at this paper than I am actually capable of.
6. It looks like I could be laying out sports pages along with the news pages for the rest of my time here at this paper now. Not sure how I feel about that, well I guess not too bad as long as I don’t miss So You Think You Can Dance at 9PM.
7. Once again, those provincial press releases and reading newspapers online are my lifesaver when it comes to generating story ideas.
8. It’s okay to ask to leave early if you are finished all of your work and everyone else has gone home for the day.
9. I need to work on my interviewing people ‘live’ if I ever want to become a host or anchor something ‘live’, which I do want to do so. * works on that *
10. This was probably one of my favourite weeks at the paper thus far. Being productive and being faced with different journalistic experiences really makes me feel like this entire internship is worthwhile. Also, watching my clippings collection get thicker, is a pretty worthwhile feeling.
More next week…
This is a long one..
Monday, July 7:
The week started off very well because I had a good amount of ideas for stories so the story meeting went smooth as ever. I find that 3 story ideas and up are great for the week, plus you know you’re going to be assigned maybe a press conference or something to cover, or even just an event to go take a photo of later in the week, thus everything works out smoothly that way.
At the end of this week would be the big iPhone release in Canada (worldwide) so I definitely wanted to do a write-up on that. I ended up calling a Rogers (the exclusive iPhone carrier in Canada) store in the city and talking to the manager for almost an hour! He told me a looooot of great information and he said it in such a colorful way, it would have made for great quotes except that throughout the entire conversation, every time I tried to get his permission to use his quotes and/or get the spelling of his last name, he kept saying “no no no no you can’t use me in the paper!” Originally when the phone call first started and he said he didn’t want to be quoted in the paper, I was all set to hang up and move on, but then he kept talking! So I probably asked him about 5 times throughout the hour, ‘Are you sure I can’t use what you’ve just said in the paper? I promise you won’t get in trouble I just want to quote you for some of the basic stuff you’re saying, nothing controversial.’ Because honestly, nothing he was saying was controversial! He did end up giving me his last name but then he called back a few minutes later and told me he checked with HIS boss (even though he is the manager) and his boss told him he could be fired if his name shows up in the paper.
Everyone has to talk to the corporate head office media person.
After all of this, my editor, the other news reporter, the sports reporter, and myself were talking about whether I could or couldn’t use his information since technically he had given me his first and last name and he had said the things that he said. The only thing stopping me from quoting him in my story was the fact that he requested ‘Please don’t use what I’ve said in the paper, I don’t want to be quoted, I could be fired.’ The other news reporter said I could go ahead and use it but honestly, I did not feel right about that at all.
So this instance was my first ethical journalistic dilemma, I guess you could say. To put it in dramatic terms, anyway. It wasn’t even a serious story, like there are definitely stories out there where you respect what a person has told you and asked you and if they don’t want to be identified then that is completely fine because they could be killed or something that is actually worthy of the dramatics, you know?
But an iPhone story?
I found it completely silly that the guy was that worked up about it, it’s not like he was saying ‘Rogers is secretly plotting world domination via the iPhone sales… ‘ or something like that, you know what I mean?
Either way, I chose not to quote or identify him in the end and I stand by it because I honestly would have felt awful knowing that he’d pick up the paper and see himself quoted and then 1) thinking of the nasty reporter who promised she wouldn’t use his name and information but did anyway and 2) worrying over the fact that he could now be fired.
STILL, I found the situation to be completely more dramatic than necessary, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.
I did end up speaking to the corporate head office media person, I was actually really surprised how on top of things she was because she called me back almost immediately after I left her a message. (I wasn’t in the office when she called back though so I had to try to call her back on Tuesday). I thought maybe I would get less priority as she’s probably never even heard of the city or paper that I work for (if I had said I’m with the Edmonton Journal or the Edmonton Sun or the National Post or something, I would know that she’d be getting back to me ASAP but the fact that she gave as much attention to my small newspaper was really pleasant, actually.
Also today I drove into a small town outside of the city because they were having a grand opening of a teen centre there. The people were really nice (I’m finding that most people I’ve dealt with during my time with this paper thus far have been fairly nice), but man oh man was it the most dead and boring grand opening of a teen centre ever.
Not that I have a lot of prior teen centre grand opening experience.
I also talked to the president of the community nonprofit organization I would be writing a little highlighted feature on this week via the phone, while setting up a face-to-face interview with the vice president, for Tuesday.
All-in-all, a very productive day and I can’t recall thinking if I was bored or not.
Tuesday, July 8:
I had a few other stories to do this week that aren’t of great importance and I’ve already forgotten what they were about really, but I’m pretty sure I made phone calls for these other stories pretty early on, on Tuesday, and I remember thinking to myself ‘Hey, it’s not even 10AM yet and you’ve already got so much done and out of the way.’
Of course, at this newspaper job to date, I’ve tried to ditch the whole getting-things-done-fast-approach that I am very familiar with, instead opting for the drag-things-out-as-long-as-you-possibly-can-because-if-you-don’t-then-you’re-going-to-end-up-with-nothing-to-do-and-THUS-be-extremely-bored, mentality.
I was happy I did get a lot of calls and things done and out of the way early on Tuesday though, but it’s kind of a tossup really. On the one hand, I love getting things done and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore, but on the other hand, I still recall my absolute terror over the idea of being deathly bored like I was my first week here, and that memory of terror and extreme boredom often keeps me motivated to drag projects out for as long as I can (even though, I really want to assure the 0 readers that I have, that I am one hundred per cent capable of working so much quicker than I actually do at this job!) There is just not enough news to cover in the week to try and get things done ASAP, you know? In fact, there could be as much news as ever, but it’s the dependence on having people pick up their phones / be in their offices / be willing to talk / or call you back, that is really the most time-consuming aspect of this job.
Case in point – when I tried to call back the Rogers corporate head office media spokesperson. I must have called her 15 times today (Tuesday) but each time I called, I couldn’t get through to even leave her a message because her voicemail was full each time! This I can understand though, since the iPhone was being released later this week and there was a whole load of controversy up on in the Internet over it. I can just imagine her phone must have been ringing off the hook that day, the week post-iPhone release, and basically just since the iPhone is coming to Canada/Rogers was announced.
I have come to the conclusion that this job, being a reporter and just the career as a journalist itself, really depends on the availability of others. If you need someone to talk to you, and they don’t get back to you right away or before deadline, you are screwed. Not only are you screwed in that you don’t have a story, but you are screwed with your day-to-day activities as well because you can’t do anything with the story until the person you need talks to you!
(Of course there are alternatives, find someone else to talk to, etc. But still!)
I don’t like depending on others to make my work a success. I don’t ever do that and I’m kind of disappointed that this job relies so heavily on other people. Hm.
Wednesday, July 9:
This Wednesday was extremely productive.
I had put off transcribing any of my interviews until today, simply so that I would be kept busy the entire day. This plan worked.
I transcribed and wrote out my 10 interviews and 4 stories pretty much the whole day. Again, I worked as slowly as I could. After lunch I forced myself to spend at least an hour writing each story, even though I’m quite positive I could have finished the stories in half that time at my normal speed. (I hope I’m not coming off as thinking that I am overly awesome or anything, I just work and get work done really efficiently normally, this is a quality of mine).
As Wednesday’s are stay-late and help with laying-out-the-paper Days, I did just that. The only difference this Wednesday was, normally previous Wednesday’s after I finish laying out the necessary News-related pages, I say, is there anything else I can do? And he says, nope looks like that’s it, you can take off. This was not the case this week. After I finished my news-related page layouts, I asked, is there anything else I can do? And my editor said, well not really for news but if you want to lay out some sports pages then that’d be great.
Of course I wasn’t going to say, AWW I DON’T WANT TO I WANT TO GO HOME AND WATCH TV, like I was thinking in my head. Instead I said, Sure! Sounds good! And I ended up laying out about 4 of the 8 sports pages before my editor said I could take off.
I did end up leaving the latest that I have since I started this job, but overall it wasn’t too bad. I think I left around 8:10PM. Usually I leave around 7:30PM on Wednesdays…
All of this, everyone should remember is completely worth it as I get off typically around 3:00PM on Thursdays and 1:00PM on Fridays. Ah Early Day Fridays, my favourite, ever.
Thursday, June 10:
Thursday copyediting day.
I can’t recall what else happened today, so probably nothing important..
Oh wait, our next week’s issue is going to feature this ‘Best of’ feature that the paper puts out every year. Apparently the paper has been collecting votes and stuff the past few weeks for residents/reader’s favourite stores and places in the city and the winners will be in next week’s issue.
It comes in a little pull-out so there’s also room for a few mini-stories about some of the businesses that won in different categories. My editor picked five businesses to possibly highlight and I chose the ‘Best/Favourite Pet Grooming’ category.
Also today, I probably searched for story ideas today and I probably found them.
Friday, June 11:
iPhone Launch day!
I went of course.
Not to buy an iPhone, but to cover it! I got some pictures, I talked to some people who had lined up, I saw the chaos (well, this city is small so chaos is a pretty dramatic word to use in this situation, it was definitely not anything crazy like you’d see in a Tokyo cell phone store or even a Rogers in Edmonton, but still, I would say chaos, as the employees there were pretty panicked and not used to that many (only under 20) people at the store at once.) Haha.
It was fun though.
One of the people waiting to get his phone activated was looking at his watch every couple minutes and saying Ahhh… I have to get to work, to which I responded ‘Being here is work for me so I’m not going anywhere.’ Haha. It was a fun little experience.
After I got back to the office, I decided to do some editor-impressing (and also productively pass the time and ALSO prove to myself that I can get things done at ridiculously quick speeds if I am actually on normal mode) by calling the owner of the Best/Favourite Pet Grooming category, interviewing her, transcribing her interview, and writing out the story, all in about an hour and a half.
When that was done and out of the way it was noon and it was just me & my editor left. I decided, well I guess noon is too early, even for Early Day Fridays, so I browsed the Internet, reading the news and seeing if I could generate anymore story ideas, until 1PM.
At 1PM I decided, for the first time since I started, to ask if it was okay if I left. I mean, up until that point I had always waited until my editor told me ‘There’s nothing really going on here, feel free to take off,’ but so yeah. That day I said ‘Well I’m pretty much done everything for the day –Editor’s Name-, would it be okay if I took off?’ and he said ‘Yeah for sure, I’m probably going to take off pretty soon myself.’
So, it was good. He didn’t bite my head off for asking to leave, which to be fair, I don’t think he would. He’s actually a pretty awesome editor. But then again I haven’t given any reason for him to show any other side of him…
Haha, just kidding. I have no plans to bring out any scary side of my editor for the rest of my time at this paper, which as it happens, is only a few more weeks.
I can’t believe how fast summer has been flying by.
Things I learned this week…
1. Signing up for provincial press releases REALLY helps for generating story ideas!
2. Reading newspapers thoroughly, once again, is also a pretty good contributor to story ideas.
3. I probably should have brought some souvenir back for my editor / co-workers, darn. I’ll remember that for next time.
4. Being gone for a week doesn’t change the fact that when you come back and make phone calls, people STILL aren’t ever in their offices or homes.
5. It’s not fun reading the newspaper when I haven’t written any stories for that issue.
6. A repeat but — getting recognition or praise for an article you’ve written is really rewarding.
7. Keep your eyes open and be alert when copyediting because I definitely found some hardcore errors that got fixed before the paper went to press.
8. I still love some what early day Thursday and early day Friday (even though as I write this it is Friday and I’m still in the office but still, earlier than other days!)
9. People still don’t call you back.
10. It really is a fabulous feeling knowing that you’ve got story ideas for next week’s paper!
More next week…
I missed Monday and Tuesday of this week because I was on my vacation but I came into the office Wednesday night to help layout the pages. Then resumed back to my regular working schedule on July 3:
Thursday, July 3:
First day technically back from my vacation and there wasn’t a whole lot to do because well, it’s Thursday! Falling back into the similar routine pre-vaca, Thursdays = Copyediting, and thus I did.
The paper was really short this week (only 40 pages!) so the copyediting didn’t take long at all and by noon the sports reporter left because everything was finished.
I didn’t leave because obviously my first day back I’m not going to try and leave early, come on now.
So I ended up reading VERY thoroughly through the Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Sun, and the National Post. I also read through the government press releases that I missed while on my vacation and so those along with the newspaper readings I was able to come up with a few story ideas for next week!
Which is awesome because I was worried I’d be coming back from vacation and then showing up at the story meeting with no ideas.
So, that was good!
The sports reporter left at noon, the other news reporter left at 1, and my editor said I could go home at 2 if I had nothing to do, which I didn’t, so I did.
Thus ending Thursday!
Friday, July 4:
Next week’s edition is going to have a ‘Community Awareness’ article which is what I’ve been doing since I started so my editor gave me the name of the organization I would be writing about and they didn’t have a website which is kind of difficult in terms of trying to get contact names and numbers. But a Google search yielded a club president name & number, which I called yesterday only to get the lady’s voicemail.
So this morning I asked my editor if I should call the lady again or wait for her to call back and he suggested I try to reach other members of the club, which is difficult as they do not have a website or a list of club members.
Apparently the club had done some stuff with the paper in the past though so my editor remembered one guy and girl’s names he just didn’t know their number so like a real journalist I went through the phonebook and called all of the possible D Smith’s and well there was only one Colleen M so she wasn’t too hard to track down, except that both the guy and the girl I received their voicemails too.
The tracking down was cool though because there was about 5 ‘D Smiths’ and after I called each number and had no luck I crossed off the number on my little notepad and it felt very Journalistic and cool. Hah!
Anyway so basically I return from my vacation to the thing I dislike most about the job which is simply – WHEN I CALL PEOPLE THEY ARE NEVER THERE AND THEY NEVER CALL BACK!!
As I sit here it is now past noon on Friday and I have received no phone calls back (nor do I expect to receive any for the rest of the day).
Time for lunch I suppose.
Monday, June 23 and Tuesday, June 24:
These were the two days I was working before I went on my vacation and I don’t particularly remember the details of what I did, but I know that I did write 2 stories for that week’s paper and one of which I’m pretty proud of so I wanted to talk about it!
There is an eleven-year-old boy who received a ‘Great Kid Award’, beating out 450 other nominees across the province, so I got to interview his mom and then meet and interview him and I thought it was really so much fun. His mother was so nice and he, honestly for an eleven-year-old kid, he has so many ideas and dreams and it’s really inspiring.
I ended up writing the story in a pretty soft-lead kind of way, and I was worried that wouldn’t go well, but it did and then the mom ended up emailing / calling me while I was away on vacation and telling me that they really loved the article and they thought I wrote it well and represented her son well and that the photos I took were great too!
So I was really happy about and proud about that because you know, as a summer intern, I appreciate all feedback and criticism or compliments on what I write and this was technically the first one I received on a story I’ve written here to date, so it was a big deal for me.
My editor ended up emailing me the original email that the mom sent (she didn’t know my email address so she sent it to the editor) and he wrote ‘Well deserved kudos!’ So that felt great too!
The other story I wrote that week was just a ‘What’s going on in the city for Canada Day’ type of story so I didn’t think it was that great but it was put on a Canada Day spread with a bunch of red and I thought that looked pretty cool.
What I learned this week:
When people like your story and they tell you, it’s a really great feeling!
For the week of June 16-20, 2008 I can’t find my write-up recap, nor can I remember what I did, so this week will go empty, unfortunately.
Things I learned this week…
1. Google maps and directions is not foolproof, don’t completely depend on it.
2. Always listen at the beginning of conferences when a speaker’s name is introduced!
3. I have forgotten pretty much everything I was taught in Photojournalism during J-school. Backing up on Flash appears to be the answer.
4. People love when you take pictures of their event for the paper.
5. Another person’s problems really has a large effect on your own working and schedule in a small newspaper.
6. People are generally A-Okay when you take photos of their kid for the paper, this might be a repeat ‘what I learned’ but I appear to be taking pictures of kids for the paper a lot so. It doesn’t hurt to remind myself that.
7. I’m sad when early-day Fridays are interrupted but I guess I still go home earlier than most people on Fridays even if I do end up having something to cover. OH RIGHT PAYDAY FRIDAY TOO! SWEET! That was a good day.
8. It’s kind of nice having things to cover on the weekend because on Monday I knew I’d have like a list of things to tell the editor that I went and covered and that’s always a good feeling. But I hope I don’t have to work weekends again, lol I already have a weekend job.
9. If your battery dies, take it out of the camera and pop it back in, it’ll give you at least a few more shots that you can make worth your while.
10. Surprisingly security at the military base is pretty lax…
More next week…