RECAP: my sixteenth week at a small newspaper

August 18 – 22 2008

Hello blog visitors! (Turns out I do have blog visitors who aren’t just related to me after all, shocked I was when I made this discovery!) Continuing with the blog recap format I picked up last week (writing by newspaper story instead of by day), let’s just get right into it shall we…

This week I did 5 stories, three of them were pretty small stories for another edition of the paper’s Back to School pullout, one of them was another artsy-entertainment-related story (YAY!) about a set designer/stage manager, and the other was a glorified business ad (the paper calls them MOB – More on Business – Reporters where they basically pick a business in the city each week, do a quick interview with the owner, and then write up a story that basically advertises that business – for free!

Let’s start with the two most interesting (obviously not the back to school stuff even though I guess these last 2 back to school pullouts & my contributions towards them would qualify me in saying ‘I did a Back to School beat’) – the glorified business advertisement!

Vietnamese MOB (when I first wrote this out on the sheet where we write down what stories we are doing for the week, I laughed because it sounded like a Vietnamese gang unit, haha). For the past several weeks I’ve been making a point to eat out of the office at least once per week and it just so happens that the only eat-out place I crave is Vietnamese noodle soup. I got back from my outing last week and the reporters/editor for the first time asked me where I went so I told them I went to a Vietnamese restaurant that I’ve been going to once every week. My editor, who usually writes the MOB reports, furrowed his eyebrows deep in thought and finally said ‘They’ve been around for awhile haven’t they?’ (criteria for a business to make it into a MOB report – be established) to which I responded ‘I think so’ (I really didn’t know considering I’ve only just ever been in St. Albert for the first time in the last 19 years that it’s been a 30 minute drive away from me— 4 months ago). Anyway so my editor said ‘Maybe we could do a MOB on them’ and I was like ‘Oo that’d be fun!’ and then he said ‘Do you want to do it?’ and I said ‘Oh! Okay yeah!’ … lol so that is how I ended up taking over the MOB report for this week’s issue.

Now it’s probably good that I was the one to interview & write this particular MOB because the owners of the restaurant, as I predicted they would be –stereotypically-speaking & with knowledge from past experience dealing with older Vietnamese people – were pretty unresponsive and/or gave pretty dull quotes and very little information. The only reason I was able to gather enough information to fill the MOB report space was because a) I ended up switching from interviewing the owner in English to interviewing her in Vietnamese where she was much more responsive (but still not by much) and b) I have a lot of background and understanding with Vietnamese noodle soup and food so I was able to describe and write from my own (I would go as far as saying expertise) knowledge.

The article turned out good though. The restaurant’s Vietnamese name translated into English means ‘sunshine’ so the whole story had a sunny…radiant…sunshine…positive motif going on, which was fun to do. Since the owners don’t live in the city (they too live in Edmonton and only drive here to work), I don’t know if they’ll be able to get a copy of the paper but I intend to bring one over there to them when I go for my final meal there next week (as next week is my final week working in St. Albert!)

The other interesting story I did this week was about a girl named Chiharu Ono and her involvement in this year’s Fringe Festival. Chiharu is a set designer/stage manager/ production major at the National Theatre School in Montreal but she is originally from St. Albert. 3 of her friends along with herself came back to the Edmonton/St. Albert area this summer to put on a show for the Fringe Festival (which sadly despite making plans to attend this year, I won’t be attending). My interview with her was, as my interview with last week’s Fringe involvees, FUN! It really was. Honestly I have so much more fun talking to people about stage and acting and music and stuff than I do talking to people about new school funding initiatives…

Anyways, so I guess that’s all I really have to say about my interview and writing the story for her. It wasn’t hard, it was fun, I enjoyed the process. I also liked the way I started my story too. I really do like the softer story-telling-like leads as opposed to the straightforward hard news who what where when why in-one-sentence leads.

Finally, with the last 3 stories I did, I’m not sure there’s anything really I can go into that would be interesting. I did a story on one of the school district’s summer reading contests. I did a story on hot lunches and nutrition in schools. And I did a story on one school district’s upcoming 50th anniversary & another one’s 3-year-education plans. Most of the interviews for these stories took place the week prior so doing 5 stories this week didn’t really feel like much of a workload as I had a lot of these 3 back to school stories pretty much completed last week.

Other moments to point out from this week:

The sports reporter officially goes on vacation today, Friday Aug 22. Normally he covers ALL of the sports games that occur in town. 7 days a week if there’s a game he goes to it. So since he was leaving for vacation today, he wrote up a list of all the games that would be occurring in the city during his time away, and he gave it to my editor on Thursday.

There was a lot.

Keep in mind I have no interest in sports and I have a very prominent fear that if I try and attend a sports game and write about it, I will a) not know the sports terminology and b) not know the players names I’m writing about.

So when the sports reporter’s list listed several games Thursday night, Saturday and Sunday, I could feel myself inching back in my chair trying to make them forget I was there so they wouldn’t say, ‘ Linda go cover this rugby game even though you’ve never seen a rugby game in your life ‘ (unless you count that episode of Friends where Ross tries to prove to Emily that he’s tough by playing rugby with Emily’s old boyfriend, LOL).

My inching back or cowering or whatever I did worked though because the editor divided up the sports events between himself & the other news reporter, leaving me out of it. Apparently there are 3 sports games on Wednesday night too, which will be extremely difficult since Wednesday nights are when we lay out the pages…

SO I’m not too sure how my final week at the paper will be.

On Monday I’m going to be tagging along with the other news reporter to cover a city council meeting. I get to write a goodbye column for next week too (finally! a column!) and I am thinking if everyone (and by everyone I mean just the editor & the other news reporter because without the sports guy that literally is the entire reporting team) is running around trying to attend and write sports stories then I will just offer to pick up more of the news stories slack! Hopefully that works. Because I don’t have any ideas for any new news stories that I could write and honestly, my last & final week, I don’t care if I don’t have any news ideas.

For my goodbye column that I’m writing for the paper next week, I think I will also copy & paste it on next week’s blog entry too because I think that’ll be a good final summary about my time working at this paper, and also a nice summary for my blog – which at this point I’m not sure if I’ll continue blogging on once school starts. I guess there is no reason why I couldn’t continue blogging about my school assignments and things I’m learning and encountering in my 2nd year at Journalism school – the aptly named A Young Reporter’s Life would still very much make sense, but we’ll see how it goes.

Until next week! :)


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