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Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

I’ve stumbled upon a remarkable life.

Though my internship is over, I have begun writing freelance for the paper. It amazes me that I am making money doing the same job I was doing before for nothing…. and I get to work from home instead of driving down to Fort Washington every day.

Also, thanks to my father, I have acquired a part-time odd-job: I am paid to watch Gilmore Girls for several hours a day.

Alright, that’s not exactly how it works. My dad’s friend owns a internet-based business (The Twinery) selling baker’s twine. I help him by spinning and packaging it, which I can also do from the comfort of my own home while I watch television.

So somehow, I now have two jobs that I really enjoy, and more free time than ever before. As I said, quite the remarkable life I’ve found. God is good.

And with all this free time, I’ve had plenty time for crafting– one of my very favorite things to do.

Recently I’ve been exploring the world of baking. I don’t get the chance to do it often at school, so when I’m home I go a little crazy. Yesterday, I made cake pops (recipe found here). I was first introduced to these wonderful creations by Rachel Stephens, fellow journalism nerd and baking advocate. Here’s a peek at my first solo attempt:

Crafting, twining and writing. I love summer.

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This is the last week of my 6 week-long internship. It’s been quite a ride and a learning experience. I think after this week I’ll have to sit back and process everything to really get a complete understanding of my time here.

I met another Christian at work today. I had mentioned to another intern where I had gone to highschool, and his head popped up from his cubicle and he started talking to me. Apparently, he went to my church years and years ago. Small world! We talked for a little while and eventually went back to work.

(Side note: You know when you’re in a foreign country and you meet someone from America and it turns out they’re from the same town or state as you? There’s an instant connection because although you’re in an unfamiliar place, you found someone who you share something with who understand where you’re coming from. That’s what this was like. It always amazes me how randomly meeting another brother or sister in Christ will build instant bonds of trust, understanding and kinship.)

A little while later, he came over to my desk and said to me quietly, “Hang in there because we need Christians in this business.”

(It did kind of feel for a moment as if we had just discovered that we were both members of some secret group… like in a movie! Ha.)

I was really surprised by his comment though, and it stuck with me. Almost every time I tell someone from church that I’m majoring in journalism, it is usually suggested that I try to get a job at Focus on the Family, Fox News or some other Christian/Conservative media outlet. And I know people mean well, but that has always bothered me.

I know Christian bubble culture pretty well. I went to Christian school from kindergarten to 12th grade, and then I moved on to a Christian University. Almost all of my friends are Christians. I love the community of fellowship we have together. So here’s why I don’t think I should work at a Christian media outlet: It’s too appealing. It’s too appealing because it’s too safe.

So many Christians segregate themselves from culture and then complain when the culture is too “liberal,” which causes them to draw back even more. It’s a shame, and I’m the chief of sinners in this area. I know I love safety too much.

The draw of working at a Christian-in-name media outlet is that I would be able to stay inside my bubble.  After all, I like my bubble. My bubble is safe.

But I don’t think bubbles are even supposed to exist. I don’t think Christians should be content to live so safely because I can’t think of a place in the Bible where God ever calls us to life “safe” lives.

Just some things to ponder. I’ll post next about the conclusion of my life as an intern.

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Last week, I did a phone interview with James McMurtry, a folk song-songwriter based in Texas. Trusting my handy-dandy digital voice recorder to do its job, I plugged it into the jack and conducted the interview as I usually do– stress free and confident that I’d have the interview to go through and transcribe later.

Well. Technology failed me. Whether the jack I used didn’t work, or the error came from me, when I listened to the interview, I heard only myself asking questions and long periods of silence where there should have been answers.

My heart raced. The story was due the next morning and I knew he didn’t have time to be interviewed again.

I don’t usually take many notes when I’m doing an interview with a recorder. But fortunately, this time I had. I don’t know why, but during that interview I had been scribbling down quotes and random facts. It wasn’t a lot to work with, but it was something.

I spent the next half an hour feverishly attempting to recall everything he had said and mashing together a story from bits and pieces.

I’ll admit that sometimes I am a lazy writer: aka, I pick out a lot of quotes from an interview and write around them, connecting the dots. That’s not a good way to write. That’s not how it’s supposed to be done, and it doesn’t make for a very well written story.

This time around, I didn’t have dots to connect. I had to write based on the material I could recall, and as it turns out, the things I could recall were the most important parts of the interview.

And despite the moments of panic and angst, I think the story turned out well.

And thank the Lord I was taking notes. When I go back to school, I’ll be bringing my notepad to interviews again.

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“You know AP style!” he said in bewildered amazement.

If my life were a novel, that is what the latest line would read. I finished two stories today and submitted them in nervous anticipation. Though I welcome constructive criticism because I’m eager to learn, I also dread it because I tend to take things personally. So I waited to hear back. A few minutes later I see him (one  of the editors) coming towards me, with what I assume is my story in hand. I braced for impact, but the first words out of his mouth were not what I expected.

He said, “Wow, you’re really good.”

Now let me calm your excitement for a moment– this is not Pulitzer Prize worthy stuff. What he meant was “I’m surprised that you’re actually competent.” And that’s a compliment enough for me! He also asked me if I did this a lot… I said yes… He said where… I said my school paper… and yet he still looked bewildered.

(Maybe interns aren’t supposed to be competent?)

Anyway. This means that they can give me a story and let me cover it with little to no hand holding. That was my first goal. Mission accomplished. What’s my next goal? Keep getting better at writing, keep getting faster, keep getting more clips and keep learning from my mistakes.

And here’s what I learned about the industry this week: The rival of  traditional local newspapers is Patch.com, which I mentioned in my last post. It is an internet hub for “hyperlocal” journalism that is almost the only real competition for papers like this. It’s an old school/new school feud that’s causing some tension in the ranks at local newspapers across the country. A lot of writers from papers have been snatched up by Patch, which is a bit of a sore spot even here (evidence of animosity: newspaper people referring to Patch people as “hipsters”).

Overall, I’m beginning to enjoy this more. The internship continues to be a good experience.

Here’s the link to a story I wrote last week:

Trappe/Collegeville Memorial Day Parade to kick off celebration of Muhlenberg’s 300th birthday

The other stories will be along shortly. In other AP related news, @APStylebook is now following me on Twitter, affirming all suspicion that I am a journalism nerd.

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