December 18, 2005

A link

Here's the link to my newspaper's online presense, such as it is: SVH

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Leave graphic design to the experts

I was disappointed to see what has been selected as Virginia's new highway welcoming signs.

Clip art special!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we stopped at a Virginia welcome center where we had the chance to vote for a new welcome sign. Try as I might, I couldn't find the box for "none of the above" or "submit your ideas."

In all, 56,400 people voted, according to the VDOT website. Out of six designs, 31.5% chose the above sign, which is a clip art special, arguably worse than the existing signs.

Existing sign

Graphically speaking, I think any of the other choices were stronger, although I was disappointed that most of them struggled to represent the entire state. My vote was for the ship sign, to go along with the giant Jamestown 2007 anniversary celebration.

I guess it's too late now, but this is the reason why it doesn't hurt to pay a professional to design your products. One thing's for sure, it's is a reminder of the danger of high-powered graphic design software in the hands of the unskilled.

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Friends and Fellowship

Last week at church, when I announced that I'd been promoted at work, one of our friends excitedly told us that she'd prayed that morning for our baby and that I'd get a new job because she didn't think my current position could provide for our family. Little did she know the Lord was answering her prayers that day, and it was such an encouragement to hear her share that.

For two years in Virginia, Darla and I have searched for a church to call home. But time after time, we found churches claiming to be Bible-believing that instead seemed mired in traditionalism. A few were decent, but had other issues that concerned us.

For a year we attended one church regularly, but it wasn't one we felt at home in. As BJ grads, we felt that we were viewed as too liberal. (!) Finally, that reached a point where we needed to resume our active church search.

We expanded our search parameters from our county to basically an hour's drive in any direction. We were desperate to hear the Word preached and to have true fellowship.

We visited a college friend's church, which was pleasant but far away. We tried a few others, but they were more of the same. Eventually we decided to try some in the nearby city in which Darla works.

I went online, trying to find the service times for one church we knew of. Instead I found a link to one I'd never heard of and everything on its website looked promising. That Sunday we visited Fellowship Baptist Church and were pleased to hear an outlined sermon, with beautiful explanations of the Scripture passage.

The pastor's family invited us to lunch that same day, something which had never happened at any other church we'd visited. For the next few weeks, we tried a few other churches in between visits to Fellowship, not wanting to be too hasty in our decision to attend there. But the Lord was guiding us there clearly.

For the first time in a long time, we were excited to go to church -- in spite of a 45-minute drive. The pastor's expositions on the Word several times brought tears to my eyes because of the beauty of the concept he was revealing through careful study. That was something we hadn't had for two years.

About two months ago we joined the small body -- services typically run about 20-25 people. It's a church in which Christ's love is so evident in the interactions of the congregation, and one in which we're able to make a difference, much like we did in New York. (One of the things I'm working on is a new website for the church!) Interestingly, the small church has two newspaper people (and sometimes a third), a public relations person, and a video producer. I feel right at home.

Since we first visited this summer, the church moved out of its exhorbitantly-priced store front into a high school. Not long after that, we had to move out of the high school and we spent a few weeks as nomads. Twice we met in a town park picnic shelter, once at the pastor's house, and a few times at a local state university. Our prayers for a permanent location were quickly answered, and we moved into our current location, which is nearly perfect for our needs.

A struggling pentecostal church rented us an entire wing of their building, giving us a small office, a small sanctuary, restrooms, and two nursery/Sunday School rooms. When needed, we also have access to a full-size banquet hall with commercial kitchen. Most importantly, it gives a base of operations so that we can rededicate our efforts to reaching out in the community.

Frequently we see the Lord's provision for our needs. Over the last six months, we've seen him meet our need for a strong church home. And last week, as I got my new job, our church friends got to be a part of the Lord's provision. That fellowship is what we've missed, and we're so thankful for it.

Posted by JRC at 08:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

First week

My first week as managing editor has come and gone. The move to a new paper made for a challenging first week, having to throw a paper together in all-new surroundings and adjusting to a (snowy) 40-minute commute.

Nonetheless I was able to get some stories submitted from freelancers and a staffer and write two myself. One story came from my boss and it was about my taking the editorial reigns of the newspaper.

The biggest challenge for me was adjusting to a production deadline hours earlier than what I'd dealt with in the past. We made it on time, if not a little ahead of normal.

But unfortunately, I transposed two letters on the sub-headline to the story about myself. Numerous eyes checked the page, but nobody caught the error in time. I brought home a printout and realized the miscue while standing next to my bed. By that time it was too late to fix.

The next morning, I picked up the finished product, grimmacing at that error and groaning when I found that pages A4 and C4 had been switched. A phone call to the production manager relieved my fears that I'd made the mistake. He took full responsibility for the unusual problem, noting that it was bad that it happened on my first week at the newspaper.

When such errors occur, it makes a newspaper issue very tough to look at. I'll pick up the best issues multiple times to admire, flip through, and read. But at the moment, this first paper isn't one that I want to frame for the ages.

Posted by JRC at 08:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2005


I passed my final exam this week, and now I've got a new job.

After clocking three bylines on a murder story and one on a flood rescue (in addition to putting out my sports section), I've been promoted to managing editor of another newspaper within our small chain of weekly papers.

Last night, I put the sports section to bed a little earlier than normal. Then I backed up files to CD and DVD and cleaned out my office. This afternoon I started my new position.

This new newspaper spot is in a neighboring county. I still report to the same man, who is a very good person to work with. Support for my move started with him and went all the way up to the owner of the papers.

The promotion is both exciting and daunting. The responsibility is much greater, and the switch is likened to changing a tire on a moving car. My immediate goal is to publish a new issue on Tuesday.

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Tough stuff

I don't think anyone ever said the news business was easy. This past news cycle reinforced to me why.

A teenager's murder is truly a tragedy. My job this week was to tell that story. I covered both the crime angle and the human loss angle of the story.

Through court documents and interviews with a couple of teenage eyewitnesses, I got the story of what happened. Through interviews with friends and family of the victim, I got to share who the victim was.

It's heavy stuff to sit in a living room and talk to foster parents and a sister about the boy they lost so suddenly. It's also frightening to hear teens compare the murder to the scene from a video game.

Friday afternoon I was looking for a break in such hard coverage, so I called the woman who'd spent much of the night in her flooded car in the midst of a swollen creek. I thought her side of a heroic story would be a nice way to go home.

So much for that.

The woman, who had spent nine hours in water to her waist, was ... interesting. In addition to understandable fears of things like dying, she also feared some pretty wacky things. My heart went out to her as she shared these things with me. And then she got into talk of marital troubles, and I found myself reassuring her that her husband cared for her. After all, it was he who called the law enforcement twice when she didn't come home that night. Once they found her in town, waiting out the rain. The second time they found her in the creek, revealed only when daylight started to break the horizon.

I came out of it with a strong story, but the woman's state didn't give me the pick-me-up I expected.

What a week!

Related: (links likely good this week only)
Water rescue
Murder story
Reaction story

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