News life

I’m in on that media takeover thing. Even though it might seem like I’m just a writer who loves to read, I follow the news cycle like its my job mostly because that’s the field I’m trying to break into.

Now, five things about news writing that people don’t always tell you. (this from the perspective of someone who has written both online and for local newspapers).

1) The sources are actually not as bad as you would think. Mostly, because you do most of the research on your own. When there is the occasional bad source (code for a person that refuses to cooperate) then that just ruins my day and it has happened on a few occasions. But, I try not to let that matter too much. I know that what I they can’t tell me, someone else might. If he/she can’t though then it’s time to do some in-depth digging. This is where it gets tricky, because you have to know what you can and can’t say. I think talking to people in person would be better, but for some reason I don’t rule out phone interviews. In-person interviews are better and I know this, but maybe my inner “social interaction panic button” freaks out and just reaches for the phone instead. Alright, on to the next one.

via tumblr from http://merrylittlemiller.tumblr.com/ (as are the rest below)

2) Your editor has no idea what she’s even giving you to write about. This happened where I last worked, more of an internship at a local paper. A local dj was leaving, though when I called the radio station had said she had already left like a month ago. I immediately felt like I hadn’t called in fast enough, then realized that this couldn’t be my fault. “I’m just a student, I don’t know any better” is what I thought. It kind of worked and my editor was ok with it, giving my another assignment. This doesn’t always happen. Looking back, I wonder if I could have found other ways to contact the long gone radio dj, like over the phone (like I always did) talking about how she liked her last job. Then I thought about and was like, maybe she wouldn’t want to even hear from someone from the area. She did after all leave for a bigger city. Anyway, it’s done and whatever. But, be warned you can’t ask the editor what the story is about or who its about. They know, but not really. Not really at all.

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3) Feature writing is not considered real news. It’s just not and I have to say that most of the news I wrote at any local paper has been that. News about some pet show, or dog groomer or a church. It was still news about the community, though and there were people who were reading it, but it was not like pressing or anything. The thing is though, I like feature writing AND news writing. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know that I pretty much like writing in general. Feature writing is a human interest piece, done right it can be incredibly moving and it can make anyone take notice. That’s what real journalism is about. It’s not about trying to fit into boxes called news and not news. It’s all news and it’s all happening.

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4) Quotes. I’m always afraid of misquoting someone (possibly a journalist’s greatest fear) and sometimes ask them if I got that right. Those excited about having their story published will clarify, while some will not and I will just have to look up that info myself. One time on my internship, like the first story I was ever doing, I called back the source like three times to clarify something. Luckily, she was kind enough not to be too annoyed about it. I think she knew that I was a student, but it’s good to run into those kind people every now and then because it reminds you that you don’t have to feel so bad about asking again. I never met this woman I called back a few more times, because it was a phone interview. I put so much effort into that one article, that when the rest came spilling out I just kept going and using my phone like it was the only way to get things done. So, yeah. Use your head when it comes to quotes. Try to be verbatim. It’s not a college essay, no paraphrasing. In the real world, that’s called plagiarism. So, write and talk to people. You can do it. Or, I can do it. Yeah, I’ll keep at it.

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5) So, now that I’m at five I have to say that I admittedly have nothing else to put here and maybe I’ve just been making this up as I go along. But the stories are real. Ignoring AP Style. Yeah, that’s something. Sometimes it might feel as though local newspapers ignore AP style, but the truth is if you know it then all the better. Really, so much better. They will love you. Now, I myself am still learning AP style and all that, but I try to use it when I’m writing for a local paper the best that I can. Sometimes they notice and sometimes they don’t. One time, a local newspaper told me to stop writing how I had learned in school. Considering at the time, I had only taken one journalism class I had no idea what they were talking about. But, I went with it. “You’re using golden coin style” they told me. I didn’t know what that meant, but learned more about it in school and online. Here’s a good piece explaining it. So I was doing this thing that they were saying and I didn’t even know it. All because I wanted the first words to jump out at the reader and make them want to keep reading. I didn’t see why this was bad. But, whatever sometimes news writing is just boring. Or, so I thought. Writing can be whatever you want it to be. Do stick to AP Style and do write with good grammar. But, you should have your own voice and make the reader want to keep reading. Suffice to say, that job didn’t end well.

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The holidays are approaching. This is crazy to me, because it feels like yesterday was August. Weird. Well, I’ll let you get back to reading things and doing nothing when you should be doing something.

Also, all New Girl gifs are not mine and belong to this person. She did an awesome job though, mostly because New Girl is awesome. If you read this all the way through, then you are awesome too 🙂

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A writer’s struggle

So, I haven’t written in this blog for awhile and this week I’m writing every day. Call it a time for reflection or whatever, but sometimes you just need to write. I am well aware that I could get paid for my blogging or some other writing, but I don’t always do it. I guess I don’t really support all ads. The idea is that I write because it’s what I do, but a lot of the time I question why I do it at all.

I mean, I don’t hate writing or anything. I just wonder what it really all comes down to. Essentially, most of what I write is written on the basis that it is free or not paid (pretty much the same thing). Upon reading an op-ed today in The New York Times (from a few days ago) about writers who don’t get paid, I realized that all writers do it at some point. While the writer, Tim Kreider, almost begged younger writers to not write for free I began to realize that really not much has changed. Like, sure journalism has grown and evolved along with technology and social media. This does not mean that the role of being a writer, a task that requires someone who can write and is willing to do so, has changed.

This is essentially where the great struggle comes in. What are the choices that can be made? What can I do to find something I would want to actually do? The answer is that you can’t. Mostly, because when you’re not on a strict deadline you actually do tend to enjoy writing and what it does for you. In this way, you can end up hating what you do. I think this goes for a lot of professions though. If you do push yourself to do your best every time with the tendency to want to get more out of something, it’s really not going to be awesome. That’s the way it goes though, I suppose. We can’t always do the things we want to do, sometimes we just have to do things we hate to somewhat enjoy what we do. There will not always be a happy solution and that’s unfortunately a hard reality.

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I can’t say I know what I’m doing. I want to write. Maybe a book. Yes, for sure I would like to write books and such. I’m about to start nanowrimo (the task of writing a novel in a month, 50,000 words). So, there is the writer in me. Wanting more, seeking more but knowing more won’t come to me so quickly. I may very well be stuck in a rut for some time, but I still think that writing is all I can do. I know no other job. I can volunteer, maybe teach, but really it must involve writing and communication to some extent.

Honestly, until I find the need to stop writing and stop being sad about not having a real job (not happening anytime soon) then I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. Which is write, read, and then mentally freak out about the future.

But, that’s just me. Everyone has their own problems and their own struggles (unless your a writer).

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Making sense of the media

I don’t always like the media. They are always pounding and hammering on issues that are not at all important sometimes, other times they are just annoying. Depends who you talk to. Of course, I am sorta the media in that I write online and share my work with others. As much as anyone else, I would like articles and stories to go viral. It is even more awesome when it is your own body of work. But, when to draw the line where media input doesn’t matter to the issue at hand?

People are still writing about the media. In the media. For the media. What the heck is the media? It’s that need to relate to everyday humans but not knowing how because we are not the same that way. Society groups us into different groups and we relate to one another easily or not at all. Say if I wrote for a well known publication such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, I would be in a world of pain. Because whether you write for a small daily or a national paper, the job of a reporter still sucks. There are good days, there are awesome days, then are really suckish days that you want to do nothing. Point is, you keep at because part of you wants to make a change. Wants to do something right with their lives and writing is not only something they love but hey it makes money so yeah. Also, talking to people when you get the chance to can be really exciting sometimes (I sound so exciting, don’t I? Sorry, about that). But, it really is something to be able to reach out to people through what you write. When you write about a local group or person, you might not love it but believe me it means so much to them. That is what matters.

Today, though it’s likely impossible to make use of the media without online means. Not to get super technical, but I mean social media here. If you’re a reporter, blogger, writer, photographer, editor, or whatever if you are not using social media to your benefit then you’re doing it all wrong. But, you’re mostly just not getting the full effect out of social media that you should be.

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It’s actually slightly impossible to describe any type (or most type of media) without including “social” in front of it to some extent.

It can’t be denied or ignored because it’s reality. The media is an everchanging cocoon of ideas and thoughts. Yes, I just typed that out. While some might point fingers at those in the media for what they do or say, the fact is that on the underside there is more good than bad in terms of media. Media relations might be tricky waters to navigate and I’m still not sure I understand all the technicalities of that. Mostly, I do understand that if you want something to mean something then you do something about it. The best way that you can.

Does this whole thing have a point? Yes. The point is that the issues do matter, but so do the hearts of real people. Something that can be forgotten, when actual people are doing the writing and reporting. The human mind can only take so much before it realizes that it’s sick of all the lies and the made up jargon that nobody cares about. I guess that’s where “off the record” comes in though, no?

No, this has no point. Because I don’t usually have one. I just write about what’s on my mind and what I think about sometimes. The media is what I think we are all a part of. In today’s society, we are all interconnected and contributing something online through social media. It doesn’t always have to make sense or be normal, but that’s the fact of it. We are all connected in the messed up media world, that will probably always exist.