Friday, August 20, 2010

Football season begins

I bathed myself in the Friday-night lights of high school football tonight. With my pen behind my ear and notebook in hand, I searched the crowds looking for outrageous-looking characters to interview.

As I bounced between two different high schools I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I kept catching these conversations as I passed by teens in the stadiums.

“Why are you saying that about me (sob, sob)....”


“The (female dog) is all over my (expletive) boyfriend! I’m gonna go over there and punch her in the (expletive) face!”

Catching these gems of pure teenage-gold was hilarious. I couldn’t help but try to figure out the whole story. But as I thought about what could be going on and what would happen, it just turned into a soap opera and I had to stop.

As I wandered around interviewing the teens I decided to interview some cheerleaders. One of them was smart and well-spoken. The other, well, was lacking.

As I asked the well-spoken cheerleader about what she’s enjoyed about the first football game of the season, the cheerleader who lacked in manners, interrupted...

“This is my first time at a want to talk to me right?”

Then she proceeded to tell me what she enjoyed about the first game day. Hmmm. I thought to myself. I quickly scribbled away everything I could from the two young teens and walked away as soon as possible.

High school football seems to bring out all sorts. The young, old, the kids full of school spirit and the kids with none at all. But one thing I did notice, it doesn’t matter where a teen is on the social spectrum, everyone cheers when their team scores. In a way, sporting events unite the geeks, freaks, jocks and preps — and tonight that unification was kicked off.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Getting a thick skin

I’ve been working as a reporter for five years. Wow. When I say that — write that — I’m amazed at how long it’s been. I know it’s nothing but a ripple in the water compared to so many of these reporters who’ve been in the business 20-years plus. But hey, it’s a start.

One thing I’ve learned is you got to be tough. They teach you that in college. “If you don’t have a tough skin you won’t make it in journalism.” For the longest time I thought I’d built up a thick skin. But these past couple years in my career have really tested my strength.

These tests don’t come in one form or from one subject. The first real test I had was a couple years ago when I covered a car accident where a mother and her 9-year-old son were killed. The next day a plane went down killing nine or so people, which I also helped in covering. Two major accidents in two days is enough to make anyone shaky. But when you have to talk to grieving families, it makes it worse.

That’s when I actually questioned if I was really doing something I
loved. Of course I got over being emotional and moved on. And yes, I still firmly believe that I’m meant for no other profession but journalism.

Another thing that’s tested my thick skin is giving up, losing or
being overlooked for stories. Sounds silly, but as a reporter you want to sink your teeth into anything that’s juicy and make it bleed in ink. So, when you lose those opportunities, it’s tough.

When it first happened I think I almost cried. But now, it’s happened so many times I’ve almost gotten used to it — it still makes me angry, but I’m not crying.

So, what do you do when your thick skin gets tested? Not sure yet. But it’s a chance for anyone to find out what they’re really made of and if they can really handle being in a dog-eat-dog world known as journalism.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The new age of journalism

We live in a new age where the news is no longer waiting on our doorstep every morning or on the 6 o’clock news. It’s now at our fingertips.

We can access it through computers, phones, Twitter — and of course the traditional means — a newspaper. The way we gather news is changing and the way we present it is changing as well. Newspaper companies don’t want just copy and photos, they want video, podcasts, live story chats and the list goes on and on and on.

As I entered my career as a journalist five years ago, new-age media was already breaking its way out through websites and such. It was the stone ages compared to the technology media outlets have and use today.

My point?

You have no choice but to keep up. Truth be told I’m a traditionalist. I love the idea of “hold the presses!” because there’s a breaking story. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. But, since I’m here and I’m in the news business, I have to adapt, which means learning how to shoot and edit video (among other things).

May I just say, I spent the past five or six hours editing a video I shot Wednesday night. On Friday I shot some more video and spent Saturday editing. And let me tell you, when you’re trying to figure
out an editing program on your own, it can suck....big time! Just ask the 10 people I called to tell them I was frustrated. But I did it, with a little pointers from a friend here and there.

Since the news never sleeps and this is a skill the bossman wants his reporters to have, I figured I’d take the initiative. Aside from keeping my skills up-to-date, shooting and editing video is fun. It’s another way to tell a story. And just like any story, some will be awesome and some won’t be so awesome. But the more you do it the
better you get at it.

Well, here is the second video I shot. The first was OK but the second was much better. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is welcome.