RECAP: my thirteenth week at a small newspaper

Almost caught up to the present date!
(Just FYI, it’s August 14th as I write all of these July blogs)

Monday July 28 – Friday August 1:

My stories folder for the August 1st edition tells me that I wrote 4 stories (I’m doing pretty good writing about 3-4 stories each week!) for this week and they go like this: Bakery story, Library story, Rock’n August story, and Community Awareness story.

Let’s start with Community Awareness because that seems to be the ‘beat’ that I’ve been officially assigned to since starting at this paper. Brief description – every couple of weeks the paper does a highlight/feature type on a local non-profit organization as a way to get the community more aware, if you will. I think I’ve now done 4 since I’ve been with the paper, so while it is no So You Think You Can Dance Canada or Canadian Idol beat (blast you St. Albertans for not auditioning/not making it/SYTYCD Canada not even starting yet!) it’s still nice I think to be able to go back to school in the fall and say ‘Yup I did a community awareness beat’ * glows proudly * Haha! And for those of you who are reading (which would be a grand total of 0! Maybe the odd 1 or 2 family members, hi cousins!) a ‘beat’ is like a category of news that you and only you write about. Just a fancy way of saying, I write Arts for the paper (arts and entertainment beat), sports writers would have sports as their beat, there is school board as a beat and Court as a beat, etc!)

So back to the community awareness beat ( ;) ) I did a story about an organization that helps those with developmental disabilities, which is a LOT like the very first CA story I wrote when I got here, only this particular organization is a lot bigger and provides for a lot more persons with disabilities. I can’t say I remember much about my interviews with the people I talked to for this story but I know one interview lasted almost 50 minutes, which is a VERY long time, but I find that the previous awareness stories I wrote, I did interviews that were around that same length too. The story itself is put on a two-page spread so it has to be pretty long, so I prefer asking as many things as possible and getting them go into as much detail as possible, so that I have more than enough to fill the space.

The Rock’n August story was just a profile on a guy who owns a classic car. There’s a festival in the city each August where they show and parade around classic cars that come from all over the country and so I got in touch with a guy who lives here in the city who had restored his car, was part of the classic car club, etc. It was a very quick interview and I can’t remember much of what I asked or learned, or whether anything funny happened. I tend to laugh too excessively anyways, so I imagine with this kind of a story I did laugh at jokes or restoration process stories, or whatever it is he might have told me. His car was nice though, and I still remember what it is too—a 1958 Chevy Impala, this year marks the ’58 Impala’s 50th anniversary, woot, woot! (Yeah, you can tell I really care about cars, haha.)

The Library story was a little reaching I’ll admit at first, I didn’t have any story ideas and I saw some snippet of a story on the National Post about how more and more people are checking out books at libraries and how there is more activity going on in libraries generally, across the country these days so I figured, well how’s the St. Albert Library doing this summer? Busy? Lots of book check-outs? Actually now that I re-write the idea like this, it doesn’t sound too reaching. The only problem was my editor did a Library story when summer started, highlighting their summer reading games, so when I pitched the idea he said ‘we already did a library story but . yeah you could follow up on it, see how they’re doing, how the summer games are going’ and so that is my story. The library has been doing fabulously this summer, by the way, as well as throughout 2007-2008. The lady sent a whole list of statistics so the story on the National Post is definitely right that libraries in general are all doing extremely well, well at least the St. Albert library supports that statement. Any humorous anecdote to go along with the library story? Oh, I asked what book youths seem to want the most these days and she said what I knew she was going to say – Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, the last of the Twilight book series (which I totally read in about 6 hours, yay for my ability to read speedily, and I don’t care what people said, I liked the book!)

Finally the bakery story, which probably took the most work to do, but well, not really. I knew that not only were gas prices going up but so are food and grain prices, then I saw a story in the National Post talking specifically about bread. Then I thought, hey there are bakeries here in the city! About 5 I think? I was only able to talk to 2 of them though, I love people who are willing to talk, those who aren’t be gone! Ha. just kidding..) Anyways so I figured I’d do a story about how the increasing grain / bread prices are affecting the local bakeries, and also, because a lot of things I read is complete technical jargon and I don’t really understand, I thought I’d say if the bakery people knew why the price of wheat and grain (and to this day I still have no idea the difference between wheat and grain, apparently they have extremely similar meanings, or one makes the other, or one is in the category of the other, whatever!) so I asked them if they knew WHY the price was going up. And they told me! Yay! Apparently farms are just growing less [I used wheat in my story so I’m going to say] wheat! They’ve been growing less so that they can grow corn that can be converted into ethanol to produce fuel. There, that’s the answer. Both owners of the different bakeries told me that. * nods solemnly * Haha, anyways so my story ended up being pretty relevant. The bakeries had to increase their prices this past year because of the costs but apparently wheat prices are steadier now, which is good, and also news relevant! One thing interesting that happened was when I went to one of the bakeries to take a photo, they offered me bread and pastries as a take-home gift and I didn’t want to accept, I said no no no that’s okay, I said no it’s really okay, I said, well let me at least pay for it, but they wouldn’t allow me to so I walked away with a loaf of (good) bread and a cinnamon thing. I was very appreciative but also couldn’t help but think about how back in Journalism school they say ‘ don’t accept gifts from the people you are writing about! ‘ Alas, I failed. But I mean it’s just rude to reject the gift after many failed attemps to reject, right? Well in this case anyway it wasn’t a controversial story or anything so it’s not like the bread and cinnamon swayed me to show the one bakery in good light and the other bakery in bad light. I WAS FAIR!

And that ends my recap of that week.

Friday August 1st I didn’t go to work because I was off for my second vacation of the summer. I actually feel so bad because how often does a summer intern get to go on TWO summer vacations? Yeesh. I definitely work in an awesome place with very understanding people, so I’m lucky for that. And no I am not sucking up because none of my co-workers or editor will read this! So this is strictly me saying that I am really appreciative that they did let me go on vacation two times! I remember back at the beginning of my time at the paper, before I told/asked my boss if I could go on vacation, that if they said no I would be ready to resign. LOL I’m glad they said yes and that I didn’t resign though, this experience has been top notch great so far, I am learning and have learned and have experienced a lot


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