Archives for category: writing: journalism

+ I wrote an 8-page paper in two hours.  I would not wish that on my worst enemy.  If I had a worst enemy.

+ Even though I knew driving home for the weekend would be a bad idea as far as study habits are concerned, I did it anyway.  And I didn’t study.  But I did manage to freak out, write a print article for Monday, and then realize that it was actually due on Tuesday.  Which was good, because I like to submit articles before deadline.

+ At some point, I decided I wanted to be crafty.  Aside from the lap robe I’ve been working on, my plans for the next week include making an upcycled bag from a t-shirt and upcycling rough drafts of articles and essays into a notebook.  I have plenty of both.  I have an American Eagle shirt with Arabic writing and an Old Navy shirt highlighting Morocco that would be perfect, because the AE shirt is too small and I never wear the Old Navy one anymore, but I’m too obsessed with the Middle East to get rid of them.

+ At the last minute, I decided to drive to campus on Monday.  For some reason beyond my understanding, the college decided that we needed to make up the classes we missed on Good Friday.  We also had classes on Easter Monday.  I had assumed that the semester would simply end on Friday, as usual.  And didn’t realize otherwise until about a week ago.

I deliberated whether to skip or go, and in the end, drove the +2 hour trip to campus on Monday morning, attended classes and drove the +2 hour trip home that afternoon.  It was fantastic.  Not really.

+ Tuesday was also insane with finishing two finals, including the 8-page reflection on one of my classes.  I seriously rambled for eight pages, and it was horrible.  I’d rather be concise and reflect in four pages.  Or, not reflect at all and just go home, but unfortunately the college administration doesn’t take kindly to that idea.  Darn.

On the upside, my mom, sister and I went to a local coffee shop to chat and I shipped a care package to Frank.

+ There was also a breaking news story with lots of legalistic issues.  I spent a good deal of Tuesday on the phone with the director of public safety and then on Skype with the co-writer of the article.

+ Wednesday was awesome.  My sister accompanied me to college, where I finished my Medieval History final exam in 45 minutes.  Then, we met with the student life editor (who has the same name as my sister) and the three of us ate lunch in the caf.  It was actually pretty decent; I had sesame chicken and a burnt French vanilla cappuccino.

Afterward, my sister and I went to the Humane Society to spotlight some of the animals.  She took photos while I took notes, which I’ll compile into profiles to be posted online and at the local PetSmart to hopefully bring more attention to the animals.

This is Kennedy.

+ Things were going quite swimmingly until about 9 p.m. last night, when the editor in chief called to inform me that the layout editor, the only person on the newspaper staff with a strong proficiency in Adobe InDesign, decided to catch up on academic work instead of finishing the newspaper.  Which meant that we were already behind deadline (the paper usually goes to press Tuesday night), without a layout editor or a paper in progress.  Well, golly gee.

The editor in chief suggested we just create a PDF to distribute, so I Googled the trial version of InDesign and told him (and the student life editor, who was with him at the time) that we could download the trial versions and lay out the paper ourselves.  He said it would be next to impossible due to time constraints; I said I’d rather make a go for it and fail than give up from the start.  So, I clicked “download.”

Did you know that Adobe InDesign can take four hours to install?

Because, it can.

Fortunately (sort of?), the editor didn’t get around to actually searching for a previous edition (so I’d have something to work from) until almost midnight, when the program finally finished installing (and actually, the first time around I received an error message and had to reboot my computer, and the whole time I was thinking about what a fantastic blog post this would make).  I then started laying out four pages of senior spotlights.  That means 16 photos to edit (minus the two that I couldn’t find), 16 articles to edit (and, in one case, write), and one paragraph written of a three-page final due earlier today.

I finally went to bed shortly after 4 a.m.

And then this morning, I received a phone call that the editor in chief was going to just post all of the articles to our website, so never mind the PDF.

PhotobucketHaha, Life.  You’re hilarious.

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I’ve been working on a multimedia article localizing Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign and today interviewed the principal of a local school.  The principal was incredibly helpful and answered all of my questions thoroughly.  I’m still working on letting my questions flow, as opposed to reading straight from my notebook.  I’ve found that writing notes on the page above – reminders to ask for clarification or expansion on a certain topic – is really helpful.

During finals week, I only (at this point) have one in-class final.  My communications finals are both projects/portfolios, and my world history final is a take-home essay, as far as I know.  As long as the schedule stays that way, I’m going to pack up everything on the last day of classes, go home for the weekend and my sister and I will drive down the day of my in-class.  Afterward, we’re going to the local Humane Society so she can take photos of the animals.  I’m going to write little profiles for them.  It’s my hope that more artistic, playful photos and profiles will help some of those animals find forever homes.  I’m very excited about this opportunity!

And all of that happened in the span of about two hours today.  As for every other day between today and last Wednesday, I haven’t done much by way of off-campus work.  Why does life always speed up toward the end of the semester?  These next two weeks will be far worse than finals week!

Yesterday, the newspaper’s editor in chief, the arts & music magazine’s editor and I had the pleasure of attending the New York Times Student Editors’ Workshop.  Due to traffic, we arrived 20 minutes late and missed the welcome speech, but nevertheless learned a lot throughout the day and even made some contacts.

A wall of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the New York Times

Approximately 100 student editors met at the New York Times’ seventh home since its creation in 1857.  Some students came from as far away as Brigham Young University, while others were just a short subway ride from their home campuses.

The Dow Jones editing internship was highly recommended to help prospective journalists set themselves apart from the rest of the masses vying for placement in the internship (and, hopefully, subsequent employment with the New York Times).  What was not on the list of requirements?  A high GPA.  According to Monica Drake, the GPA is not as greatly considered as other aspects of the application.  Also, graduate school can be bypassed, and in some cases, a bachelor’s degree.

“If you can do it, then we want you,” said Manager for Staff Editor Training Don Hecker, after telling participants that the Times had hired an employee who never earned a college degree, but rather dropped out and pursued journalism.

That was, perhaps, the most disheartening part of the day.  It wasn’t the uncertain future for print journalism, but the fact that all of my hard work has been for naught.  Who needs to be on the dean’s list when you can just drop out and start a job as a copy editor?  Speaking of which, how much do you think a starting copy editor makes for the New York Times?  Guesses ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 — all higher than what a starting journalist can generally expect to make, but drastically lower than what a starting copy editor makes — $90,000.

My favorite part of the workshop was James Dao’s appearance.  Dao is a national correspondent who also covers military and veterans’ affairs.  He also happens to be working on a series similar to what I hope to do for my senior honors thesis (minus the fact that he embeds).  I was really hoping to meet him, so when he finished talking I leaned over to the editor and said, “Is he leaving?  If he is, I’m chasing him down!” to which the editor said, “Go get him!” and I sprinted out of the conference room and ran down the hall (not an easy feat in a skirt and high heels).

Another speaker was unable to speak because he was meeting deadline.  His replacement nevertheless had quite a bit of wisdom to impart.

“I’m gonna change your life with what I’m going to tell you today,” Neil [I missed his surname] told students.

With the sort of wit and bluntness lacking in most conversation today, Neil was refreshing and honest in addressing the attendees.

“We don’t need one trick pony in the room.  You can be what you want to be,” Neil continued.  “Never take a step back to get ahead.”

Whether the “step up” is a higher paycheck or another step closer to a goal career, Neil told students to keep that in mind and live without regrets.

“Be true to yourself.  Do you really know who you are?” Neil asked, then continued that he frequently closes his interviews by asking his sources what sort of fruit they would be, as it tells him about their characters.  “I’m an apricot.  Apricots don’t grow in bunches; I’m an individualist.”

What sort of fruit are you?

Neil also talked about his “three, five and dime” plan for the future, which requires people to envision where they want to be in three, five and ten years.  Students should plan and and prepare for the future, for the real world that comes after graduation — which, for most of the attendees, is swiftly approaching within either one month or a little over a year.

“If you’re here because you’ve got talent, and you are because you do, someone believes in you,” Neil said.  “You need to believe in yourself.”

[Quotables]

“Journalism is not a dying art.  If you believe in it, you can make it.  The cream rises to the top.” – Neil

“I thought you were just mesmerized by New Jersey.” – Speaker, after noticing students staring out the window at paper fluttering through the air for some unknown reason.

“One thing reporters learn to do is to fudge the details of what we’re doing.” – Speaker