August 28, 2003

Time flies

Currently, I'm working on my fourth week at the newspaper. A lot has changed in the time since I started there.

The biggest thing has to be the change in our address. I lived in our new place for two weeks before getting Darla and moving all of our belongings. During those two weeks, I camped out here with the bare essentials.

Then, while I was on assignment--minutes before heading to NYC to get Darla--I got a call about the blackout. For some time, Darla's whereabouts were unknown. No one could reach her, and she couldn't reach anyone. Nonetheless, I finished the assignment and head north. Finally, we heard from her. She was safe, but walking 8 miles to a coworker's house in Brooklyn. (Our place would have been about 12 miles.)

Normally, Darla would have been underground on the subway headed home, but she stayed late that day since it was to be her next-to-last day. As it turns out, it was her last day at work.

When we reunited the next day, Friday, we picked up our rental truck as planned. A small miracle. The only trouble was that the previous customer had not been able to fill up the gas because of the blackout. Neither could the rental place. So I picked up a truck with the needle solidly on Empty.

My first goal was to get gas. That was a chore. Basically, there was a run on gas stations. On my fifth station, I finally got in. Cars were packed in the station with amazing precision. And here I am driving a 15-foot moving truck for the first time. After an 1 1/2 hours, I got away with $20 gas...less than half a tank.

So, we've moved from NYC--where we had to dial 1+ area code + phone number for ANY call, local or not--to a Virginia county that is small enough that the people only tell you the last four digits of their phone number. If you know the town they're in, you'll know the first three. Big change.

Another change is my knowledge and experience in a real journalism setting. Day one at work I had stories to work on. Five hours after showing up, I was conducting an interview at a shady picnic table on a farm. I went into the job knowing I'd need to work on my interviewing skills, and I've improved already. But I know there's more to work on--what do you do when your open-ended question designed to make someone talk comes back as a yes/no answer?

This week's paper was my "baptism by fire" according to my general editor. In addition to producing my normal sports section, I produced a 16-page tabloid insert previewing the five fall sports at two high schools. That included writing a preview for each team, taking individual photos and team photos, and identifying each athlete. That was due on my third week.

Thankfully, I've met my deadlines and beat my editor's expectations. And I'm constantly learning.

So far, I'm enjoying developing story ideas, gathering information, crafting a readable story, and going out with the express purpose of getting a photo.

(For anyone interested, I will probably put up an entry soon just about journalism and what I'm doing.)

Posted by JRC at 10:04 PM | Comments (10)

August 26, 2003

Settling in

Today was my third week of deadlines with the newspaper. I've put in some late nights as I get into the swing of things, but all my material has been in on time.

This post is just a brief update. I am planning a more detailed update when I have the chance. Stay tuned!

Posted by JRC at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)