June 20, 2006

Local(e) coverage

It's funny how decisions in vocation can really turn a person in one direction or another. Last night while nearly everyone in town was at the local Firemen's Fair, I was holed up in the Borough Building reporting on the events of said town. On my way to the meeting, I passed women my age on the arms of their beaus in flip flops and tiny tanks. They had a night on the little town on their mind and I had a story to write in just a few hours. So carefree and I thought I was going to sink into the hot pavement with how much stress I was under.

Now, I know a lot of people are reading this and are like, "What's so rough about a meeting?"

There isn't so much roughness about it, except that everyone at the meeting knows how the thing works and can hear and understand everything that everyone says. It took me half the meeting to catch on to how softly everyone spoke, and forgive me, but this area has some interesting dialects: mountainese, especially. Don't get me wrong, I love a good "yunz guys" every now and then, but not when I'm working. :-)

And one thing that many people might not realize is that we don't usually finish sentences. Either someone else finishes them for us, or we allow the meaning to be implicitly understood by our audience. This is not a good thing for a journalist.

In one-on-one meetings that I prefer, sentences are usually finished because one knows that it is going in the newspaper. However, though the meetings are taped and two reporters sit in the middle of the room, writing furiously, there is a tendency to say everything but the precious soundbite that a reporter needs to encapsulate the news in a limited space. Thus, I am apt to include the (...) in my quotes or minimize the quotes all together and summarize what was said in a paraphrase.

The meeting began at 7:00 and my deadline was 10:30. The meeting ended around 9:15. I don't think I've ever written a story in such a short period of time. The story writing isn't that difficult--the reporter-speak--but selecting the topics to discuss in the story is. Some things the officials talked about were on the brink of being decided, others were decided, and still others in the planning phase to be discussed.

And then the gavel. I wanted to whack that gavel really hard so badly, and the president of the council only tapped it every once in a while...no satisfaction. Needless to say, I was distracted by its marble-wood echo through the frigid room with orange 70's plush chairs.

I'm glad I had the experience. The other reporter on the beat is on materity leave, so I may be filling in again. However, I'm even happier that I can add this to my resume, and still write under a deadline. Good times, great oldies, 3GMW's.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at June 20, 2006 12:12 AM | TrackBack

That's a pretty tight deadline, Amanda.

One of my favorite experiences as a cub reporter was covering a local jail board meeting when The Man decided that the local jails would all be no-smoking. I was the only reporter at that meeting, so I could take my time writing it.

Oh, and then there was the time a neighborhood was outraged because a couple from California applied for a license to run a camp, but they somehow didn't tell the local officials that it would be a clothing-optional facility. That was fun.

The free flow of news is vital to the functioning of a democracy. I'm thrilled to see how seriously you're taking your role in the process.

My only question... which chairs are better -- theirs or the ones in my office?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at June 21, 2006 10:37 PM

Sounds like you're having fun anyway, which is the important part. I mean the story is important, but since you're not being paid for this internship your only payment is experience... and if you're having a good time while you're getting the experience, then the carefree double-mint twins and their boyfriends that you passed in the street have nothin' on you.

And the end line? Perfect for the situation you described. Indeed, good times, great oldies (elders); 3WS. Not sure what GMW is...

Oh, and Dr. Jerz: the only chairs that are about to become comfier than the ones in your office will be the ones in OUR office, haha :)

Posted by: Karissa at June 22, 2006 10:22 AM

This isn't an internship; it's freelance writing, and I do get paid, which is decent for an evening like this.

GMWs: Girl Meets World. The 's' was for effect. ha.

As for the orange plush chairs, I didn't get to sit in them. They were like the gavel--a pleasure I didn't get to experience. :)

Posted by: Amanda at June 22, 2006 10:44 AM

I never did any freelance journalism, but I did have a (very modest) paid summer internship. It certainly makes a difference when you're not only getting resume experience and sharpening your skills, but also helping to pay the bills.

Karissa, did you get the e-mail I sent you this afternoon?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at June 22, 2006 4:21 PM
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