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Archive for December 16th, 2006

For the budding newspaper publishers

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Just read a Q&A with the publisher of the Legal Times at The Two Minute Mentor: Newspaper Publisher, from CollegeJournal. She make some interesting statements/points, so this is just me pulling out some of the things I agreed with or learned from the interview.

Being a reporter gives you the excuse to talk to anybody about anything, write about it and then get to put your name on it.

So true. I think the “excuse to talk to anybody about anything” is probably what attracted me to this profession. I’m too curious for my own good, at least when I can say I’m a reporter with such&such, I have a legitimate reason to ask questions.

It is a great career, but you have to go into it with a plan B. You have to be prepared to move around from one location or company to another in order to go up the career ladder.

This is why I hate the “five year question” as I call it. I always want to turn it around and ask, well what do you think the industry will look like in five years? Because if you can accurately predict it for me I can think of quite a few people who’d like to talk to you. Maybe not quite so bluntly, but you get the idea. Realistically, this industry is undergoing a major shift, which is a huge part of what excites me about entering journalism today. Nobody knows what it will look like in six months or a year, let alone by the time recent grads like me get anywhere near the “publisher” position. And that’s exciting! I can help shape the future of journalism, but to do so I — and everyone else in the business — must be willing to adapt, experiment and sometimes even fail. I hate to think that I have my whole life or career planned at 21. I don’t. I just want to get solid experience and learn as much as I can about as much as possible and see where it takes me.

Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: The opportunity to get out of the office, meet people and learn new things.

That’s definitely the best part of being a journalist.

Things worth noting

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Today was a random day. So, this is a random post of things worth noting. (In list format for easy digestion.)

  • To all those who have asked (and consequently scolded me), no I did not attend my graduation this morning. I’m sure it was lovely, and I’m sure Gaston gave a great speech. However, I wasn’t there. I was running around after screaming kids at approximately the same time my name would have been being called. I don’t regret it yet. Give me a decade, maybe I’ll wish I’d gone then.
  • Today I had to laugh at a cashier. He dropped an item as he was ringing it up and it fell near my foot. I picked it up and handed it back to him and said, “It’s OK. You’re fine.” And he replied, “Oooh, I know.” I couldn’t not laugh at the 17-year-old guy in the anime character T-shirt when he said that.
  • My creative writing grade has been posted: A! This brings my overall GPA back up to exactly 3.77. It will of course go down once my piano grade is posted. My social problems grade is also MIA, but that will be at the least an A-, so I’m not concerned.
  • I need to download some more podcasts for my travels this week. I’ll probably grab some more from NPR (even though my sister Brandiann keeps telling me everytime I use a word with multiple syllables or listen to NPR that I’m a “quasi-republican-linqust,” which of course means nothing except that she thinks I’m weird). I’m taking in some new cities and even finding time to stop in and visit some family I haven’t seen in far too long. Brandiann tried to make it seem more fun than it actually is, “It’s almost like traveling, right?” Haha. Almost, but very much not quite.
  • I received an e-mail from myself this morning. It was a total surprise. I wrote it about a year or so ago at futureme.org, which allows you to postdate an e-mail to be sent to your inbox in the future. I had completely forgotten about the letter to myself on my graduation. The e-mail was interesting, a few highlights:
    • I wanted to be shipping out with the Peace Corps by now (that plan, though I went as far as the interview, is on indefinite hold as I gain experience in the real world first)
    • My job search is looking far better than my internship search did at that time…
    • My biggest concern at that moment was whether my grades would be A’s or A-‘s.
    • My list of things I hoped to have achieved by now included: just wrapping up my term as editor-in-chief (which happened), an amazing internship (well, it was a good experience), having completed an honors thesis (which never came anywhere near happening), still having a sense of humor, and most importantly, “I still have a passion and love for journalism” (which is only more true now than it was then).
    • All in all, however, much of it has come true. As I said in my e-mail, “I hope I become who I have set out to be.” I definitely think I have.

When journalists blog

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

Mark makes some interesting points in this post about what’s wrong with many newspaper blogs.

There was a time when anything was “good enough” because it was new and exciting. Now, as the technology and tech-savvy readership adapt and evolve, the actual content and execution begin to matter a great deal more.

His points (which he explains in-depth in the post) include that good commercial blogs:

  • are a discussion
  • have facts to back them up
  • emphasize writing little and saying a lot
  • aren’t technologically backward
  • aren’t afraid
  • are blog friendly

I agree with all of those points. I’d probably add a few including keep content fresh and engaging and don’t just re-post links — offer up suggestions or further thought on the point, or at least collect a few other links to give it context. Seriously on the fresh content part, my biggest pet peeve is when a site has a supposedly regular item that hasn’t been updated since September. What’s the right frequency for blog posts? I don’t know, it really does depend on the topic and the community. But there should be some regularity or people will forget it exists between stumbling upon it.

Finally, a day off

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

I think this is the first day “off” I’ve had in at least a year. At least.

Technically this summer I had two days off a week. But they were hardly off when you consider that being off just meant having time to drive two and a half hours back to Akron/Kent for meetings, birthdays, etc. or spending all day working on and planning the fall Stater. Plus, I didn’t even take breathing room between the Stater and the Courier. I literally finished the Stater, took exams (and to add to the craziness, we published two extra editions of the Stater during exam week), moved my stuff to Findlay and started that following Monday. I came back from Findlay with one week to prepare the office and get everything settled before my staff returned and we started putting out the paper.

Even when I was off, I was never really off. I just wasn’t at work doing my “job.”

This fall, I did take a “breather” every Saturday. I made it a point to take my dog to the park (the metro parks, not just down the street to a swingset) on a walk for an hour or so each weekend. I needed the time to refresh from a hectic schedule and break the weeks up. But she needed it as much as I did. My mom doesn’t have the time or energy to take her out on daily walks. But Shadow’s a very hyper and active dog (shepherd & lab mix), and she misses me terribly when I’m away (which is most of the time) — so much so that when I walk in the door she literally leaps into my arms and refuses to get down until I’ve held her like a baby for a minute or two. I am not joking. It’s the cutest thing ever.

But even on those Saturday walks I’d still be “on.” I remember recently I was at the park for maybe an hour and received no fewer than three calls about the Stater. Mostly they were just, “I sent you a brief for the Web, when can you get it up?” or “So, thus&so happened, but so&so won’t talk to me, what should I do…” Even on Thanksgiving and throughout that weekend, I had stories to upload and comments to approve. I guess I could have ignored the calls and e-mails. But I’d still have to deal with them anyway. And thus, I was never really off. I was just out of the office and away from campus.

But today? Well, I am no longer responsible for the Stater. So, although I wouldn’t, if someone called and asked me for advice, to post their stories or to do them a favor, I could legitimately tell them to call Seth, Rachel or Ryan instead. I’m not planning next semester and trying to arrange schedules and training week speakers, as I was doing at this time last year, when I was M.E., and this past summer, when I was editor. I’m not even worried about getting a headstart on research for my next story or about how Monday’s budget and layouts are shaping up. I don’t even have that nagging, “exams are coming up” or “I should work on that project due Tuesday” feeling. I’m not worried about work or school or any of that. I’m off. Completely off.

So on my first day off in as long as I can remember, I’m going to take my nephews, who sadly haven’t as much of me the last year or so as they’d like, out to lunch and then have them tag along with Shadow and me on our weekly walk. Then, I’m going to unpack a few boxes, sort out everything I’ve accumulated the last three and a half years and probably kick back and read one of the 20+ books I’ve bought but not had time to read in the last year.

Mostly, I’m going to relax. For now at least.