How coffee, gum keep a journalist together
by Chattin’ with Kevin
As I reach for a stick of gum on my desk and refill a cup of coffee, I know one thing for certain: It is deadline day at The Herald Independent.
I joke that if you take away the coffee that I’d quit. The gum, well, that helps me with the stress of the deadline days where we crank out copy in a hurry. Newsrooms have changed the past 10 years but time remains the enemy of the journalist. Only now we have found creative ways to do more with less while maintaining a high quality product.
Instead of having staff photographers, our staff writers, and sometimes our administrative assistant, Martha, take photos to accompany articles. We don’t have proofreaders. Instead our regional editor proofs material for six different papers from her office in Newberry. Also, our ad sales rep, Steve, who once taught journalism, gives tips on AP style.
The paper is no longer designed or printed in Winnsboro. Layout happens in Lumberton, N.C., from a team of designers laying out papers for the southeast region of our media conglomerate, Civitas Media. This newspaper you hold in your hands was printed in Newberry and then our delivery man, Ralph, drove from Great Falls to Newberry to pick it up in the middle of the night, so you can have it first thing in the morning.
In short, this brand of new journalism, including interactive web content, is a multi-state team effort.
One thing that has not changed is our commitment to getting you the timeliest, most accurate news possible.
In the past year, I have learned a great deal as Winnsboro has welcomed me into its fold. My photography skills are improving weekly thanks in part to tips from Martha Ladd at Richard Winn Academy. My skin is a bit thicker from some of the feedback we get, but that freedom of speech is a good thing as well.
Sure, there are sacrifices involved in covering the news like tying up nights and weekends at work. It’s not the most family friendly business in that regard. But reporters get into the news business because we love it, so much so that we use our own laptop computers and mobile Internet to cover it.
The camera and lenses you see me toting around is new equipment I just purchased this fall (thanks in part to the support of my parents as I continue to live with them, pay cheaper rent and pay off student loans). Before that I used a camera I paid for a nickel a word and $10 photograph at a time while stringing for Whitmire News.
But what I enjoy most are doing special interest stories that, one hopes, will help leave the world a little bit better place after they are read than it was before it. Time and space don’t permit me to touch on the many ways your stories, whether stories we write or stories and photos you send to us as community-journalists, impact our lives as reporters and help us to become, we hope, better people at the end of the day.
Quite a bit to fold up in a newspaper, is it not?
Now, it’s time for a new stick of gum and a fresh cup of coffee. News stories await.
Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Herald Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.
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