RECAP: my second week at a small newspaper

Hi everyone.

So on Thursday after I copyedit and read the newspaper for story ideas, there’s not much else to do after that as that week’s paper is going to press later that day, therefore, I decided, why not use this time to write my blog so that it doesn’t take so much of my after-work time to write? Best idea I’ve come up with to date, I’d say, which is kind of sad. Anyway, here is a copy & paste up of what I was working on Thursday afternoon:

Monday, May 12:
When I came in on Monday, the sports reporter, who is pretty close to my age (he graduated J-school in 2006), said he read my blog. I didn’t hear him at first but when he repeated it, it completely hit me that I forgot he and I are friends on Facebook now and I advertised the blog on there. Whoops. Then again, I didn’t say anything bad about him or the other reporter, or my editor, or anything. Because that wouldn’t be professional of me, blog or not ;) Haha, so giving a quick shout-out right now, Hi Todd.

I will still be referring to everyone I work with in these blogs as ‘sports reporter, other news reporter, editor’ and etc, though.

Anyway, as the day started off, we had our little story meeting, I pitched my two story ideas, actually I had three story ideas but it turns out my editor was already planning on working on one of them and when I said Oh, I was planning on looking into that actually, he let me take it, which was nice of him, and good because I didn’t want to not have anything to do if I finished my other stories too quickly.

With the four stories I wrote last week, I still had an exponential amount of spare time, so with only three stories to write this week, you can imagine how much extra time I had to spare. Luckily my whole time managing, scheduling out what I would be doing for the hours, and reading the other newspapers thoroughly, I managed to get through the Monday fairly kept-busy, and definitely a lot less bored than I was last week.

Still though, I won’t lie. I had to work extremely slow in order to make sure these stories would last me/keep me busy until deadline Wednesday. I think one day I just need like 10 stories assigned to me with 3 days to write and see if I’d still need to work slowly or not.

Also: My cousin, who I’ve been talking to on Gmail chat, quite religiously since my job started, was absent on Monday so I was short one thing that keeps me busy that day.

As well, there was a very rude lady from Greyhound that I tried to ask a few questions to on the phone and she flat out refused me. I mean, the story isn’t even controversial or anything. It wouldn’t have made the company look bad or, you know whatever acceptable reasons there are for people to refuse to give a comment to a reporter. I just had basic –need-a-statement-about-so-and-so questions and she didn’t want to talk. Rude. But I guess it’s a part of the industry.

Tuesday, May 13:
The stupid lady from Greyhound who was rude to me on the phone on Monday, was rude to me today when I tried to call and get a few statements from her about my transit/gas story. When she rudely told me she wasn’t interested and hung up on me, I was both angry, as well as bummed out because I thought I wouldn’t have enough information and sources for the story. The story turned out all right though, a lot better than I originally thought it would, and actually it ended up being put on the first news page in the paper this week! So, yay. But still, I wish that lady hadn’t been such a cow.

Even though I had two stories to write today, I still ended up working very slowly to transcribe my interviews and write the stories, for fear of having nothing to do. I think I will always work at the slowest pace I am capable of in order to fill these 9:00-5:00PM days.

The other story I was working on, which was an RCMP story, I was pretty happy with because the RCMP people I called to talk to were really good with calling me back and had a lot of information to tell me.

Both the transit story and the RCMP story, I came up with the ideas for myself so I was pretty happy about that, except this also worries me because if I don’t come up with my own story ideas then that means I don’t have anything to do. Which means I always need to have a story idea for every week and well, that’s kind of a daunting feeling.

Wednesday, May 14:
Last week I had 4 stories to write, this week I only had 3, so by Wednesday, the day stories are to be finished written, I had indeed finished writing all of my stories for the week and was indeed trying to find something to do to kill the time.

Wednesday’s everyone stays late to put the stories on the page layout. Last week I couldn’t stay because there wasn’t enough computers with InDesign that would allow me to work. This week, the sports reporter and the other news reporter both had events to go cover at around 5:00/6:00PM, so their computers, with InDesign, were free for me to work on.

So I did. I laid out stories and some photos on pages 17-25 of the paper (this week’s edition has 42 pages I think. Last week’s edition had 52 pages.) The sports reporter came back from his event when I was working on page 23 I think, so he took his computer back and I went over to work on the other news reporter’s computer. When I finished my assigned pages, I asked if I needed to do any other pages but the editor said no because everyone else is assigned a certain number of pages to lay out, so I finished my work and got to go home!

I make that sound like I got to go home earlier than usual or something but I didn’t because we can’t start laying out pages until after 5:00PM therefore… I didn’t leave till just after 7:00PM.

Also: Coming up with catchy headlines during school was hard for me so the headlines I ended up writing for a lot of the stories I laid out on the pages were… blah to say the least. But at least it got the information across. I think coming up with headlines and decks takes the longest for me – page layout-wise.

Thursday, May 15:
I got paid today! That in itself, was the highlight of my day.

Thursdays are copyediting days, at least for the morning portion of the day. I got to copyedit pretty much the entire paper (I do a copyedit of all the pages, then the pages get passed to the other news reporter to re-check the pages, then passed to the editor who does the triple-check of the pages and then fixes any mistakes found). So despite going as slow and being as thorough as I could during the copyedit, it only took about an hour, and then I was left with nothing to do. I don’t expect to do anything else really on Thursdays since the paper is going to press tonight, no one really expects anyone to start on a new project I don’t think. So I read the day’s newspapers, the Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Sun, the Edmonton Examiner, and the National Post.

Now when I read the newspapers, I really read them. It’s not the casual skimming of the pages that most people do in the morning while they have breakfast, or at lunch or on their break, I’m reading the papers slowly and thoroughly to well, the number one obvious reason is, kill time. The other important reason is to see if I can take any story that is presented, and give it a St. Albert spin – localize it so I can do a story on it. Basically, reading the newspaper when you work at a newspaper, is not considered slacking off, it’s a great way to come up with story ideas and today, in the morning when I thought Oh no I don’t know if I’ll have any story ideas for next week, by about 2:00PM, I had come up with one story that is current and could be given a local spin. So I was pretty happy.

I also was given a short lesson in how to dig around for story ideas from my cousin in our now-regular Gmail chats.

Extra: I was taught in J-school that when you use a quote from someone, it should be “Quote,” Source said. (source is before said). The only time you put said Source (where source is after said) is if the source’s title is super long because

“Quote,” Linda Hoang, a representative for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, said.

Would be way too long and weird. (P.S. Iron Man reference there if anyone caught it, heh :D)

Anyways, so I found that there’s a lot of ‘said Source’ in the articles that I copyedited and I marked those saying they should be changed but, well we’ll see if they are actually changed or not. I guess it’s not that serious it’s just when I was taught something in school for several months, to come out of school and realize people aren’t following that rule, it irks me. But I do know that every paper has different style rules, so.

Friday, May 16:
Today was probably my favorite day because I got off at noon. Before I got off, I attempted to get an interview done before the long weekend started, but the person I was trying to call wasn’t in her office. Therefore, after 2 calls, 1 voice message, and 1 email, I decided I’d just talk to her on Tuesday.

Before my boss told me I can leave early, he cleared up the Source said/said Source issue with me. Basically he said it’s not a serious enough thing that would require a change. So I can stick with the rules for writing it that I know of, but if another reporter has written it the other way, just leave it. And so, that is what I am going to do!

And now it’s long weekend time! :D

That means the next week is shorter so deadlines will become more of an issue…

but we’ll see how it goes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you're Edmonton area, subscribe to my newsletter for hyperlocal recommendations on what to do, eat, and things to know this week!
If you're Edmonton area, subscribe to my FREE newsletter for hyperlocal recommendations on what to do, eat, things to know this week, and more!