Gearing up for the final stretch

I’ll be headed back to the newsroom tomorrow after a much needed week of spring break. For those who want the brief update, I spent a week in Memphis, Tennessee with a service organization re-shingling a roof. While I suppose there aren’t really any direct journalism applications from this experience, it was definitely a time of personal growth that I’m hoping I can carry over into my daily life. Among the lessons I learned were teamwork, asking for help, being okay with not always being the best at everything, learning on the fly, facing my fears, how to use a nail gun, how to make chalk lines, the importance of sunscreen and all kinds of other little things.

Now that the break is over, I’m feeling ready to get back to work and push through to the end of the semester. I’ve got six weeks left at the Missourian for the semester. From what I can see, I’ve got a lot to pack in to these last weeks: school board elections, a school board meeting, a school board work session, three more regular GA shifts, the end of my multimedia project, my weekend GA shift, portfolio conferences and whatever other stories get thrown my way. Outside the newsroom, I have a short story due for my fiction class, a short paper due for my English class, two longer papers due for two different classes, a final exam, a creative writing portfolio to put together and a couple of novels to read.

It’s going to be a busy six weeks.

But I’ll be ready for it. I’ve got a week’s worth of rest, a community of people to support me and a great reporting beat to help pull me through to the end of the semester. Not to mention that I’m pretty excited about a number of items on my to do list. I think with all of this, I’ll be able to finish strong.

Other newsroom updates:

  • I had two stories publish over break: the community reaction piece for the school district’s proposed tax levy and bond issue and a short profile about a student council advisor who received an award. I think I’ve talked about both of these in previous posts, so I’ll try not to go over the same details. The reaction piece didn’t require too much maintenance over break. I read over a draft on my smart phone before my ACE (assistant city editor) sent it to the copy desk and made a couple of small suggestions. I’m pretty pleased with how the story turned out. It was great to work with my fellow reporters Nicole and Abigail. They did such a good job of really helping pull the story together. Shaina, our ACE also did an amazing job taking all our vignettes and helping us get them into a coherent story. The student council advisor story also turned out well. I spent a couple of days working with the teacher to get a good photo to run with the story, which was definitely a lesson for me in learning how to talk to people about finding photos that really enhance an article.
  • On Friday, I went to my last school board candidate forum. (it wasn’t the last one before elections, just the last one I covered.) I went in hoping that the event would be fairly routine and that I would be able to finish up the story quickly. What I didn’t expect was that this forum would help me grow so much as a journalist. During the event, one of the candidates made a comment indicating that he didn’t understand the purpose of the district’s alternative high school, resulting in the audience essentially shouting him down. While the rest of the meeting was fairly straightforward, I knew this part would be important to include in the story, and that I would need to do my best to portray it correctly. Writing about this was probably the single hardest part of getting the story together. While I don’t know if it’s negative or positive as a general personality trait, I feel like one of the biggest things I have to work on as a journalist is that I’m a nice person. As in, sometimes I even think I’m too nice. But what I’ve had to learn from covering forums is that my loyalty is not to my sources, but to the community. And they have the right to know both the strengths and weaknesses of their candidates. So I spent a good few minutes with the ACE for my story working out how to be forward about what happened without either understating it or blowing it out of proportion. And it was tough. But I think I grew more from that than I have from any other forum story. And honestly, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out and how much I was able to grow from it.
  • Hopefully, my multimedia project will come together fairly soon. Nan and I have some good material together, but we had some trouble last week getting the final photos we needed to really get the piece together. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get what we need in the next few days or so, and then we can put it together.
  • School board elections are Tuesday. I’ve been working on candidate and issue coverage with Abigail and Nicole for well over a month now, so I’m excited to see how everything comes together.

New stories: Columbia voters weigh impact of school bond issue, tax levy;  Student council adviser instills leadership, confidenceSchool board candidates address high school issues

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