Five truths about being a reporter
1 - The news never ends.
I likely don't have to tell our readers that – they see that despite Jefferson County's population count of around 14,000, there's always fresh news in our two weekly newspapers. Something is almost always happening, even in our smallest communities.
Despite that, I've had plenty of people express surprise that there's "enough news in Jefferson County" to supply two papers a week.
Part of my job as a newspaper writer is to find that news – and sometimes, it's pretty obscure – and inform people on it.
At any rate, there's always a stack of projects for me to write, a list of potential stories, a calendar full of interviews and a camera full of event pictures. The news, really, never ends.
2 - You have to be part-historian
Maybe not so much for more ample news organizations in more prominent communities, but when it comes to documenting events in our county, there's a sense of historical preservation.
One day, these days will be past days. This moment right here and now will be part of history.
Future researchers will flip through the newspapers I contributed to, and they will seek out information about the people and events and places I wrote about.
Long after we're gone, hopefully, our written record keeps our story stamped in history.
So often, when I'm writing my news stories, I write them for both our current readers as well as our future ones. What will they want to know, what questions will they have when we are no longer around to answer them?
I'm preserving the past that future generations will look too, and it's such an extraordinary responsibility.
3 - We run towards danger
Law enforcement, EMS and firefighters may be the first on the scene when it comes to danger and disaster... but news reporters are typically the second.
When there was a bomb threat at the school? I got as close as I physically could. Car wreck? I'm stepping through the glass to photograph the incident. Tornados and hurricanes? We climb through debris, camera in hand, to document the damage. Armed robbery in progress? We stand outside the building and take photos and notes.
Of course, safety is important but so is on-scene coverage of significant events, so you'll often find me right on scene, dressed in a neon safety vest, camera in hand.
4 - We get into events for free (but it's not really free)
When I tell people what I do, I frequently hear the comment of: “Oh! You must get into a lot of places for free!”
The short answer is, yes. I do.
The longer answer is that whenever I go to an event and waive paying for my entry ticket or catered dinner... its not really free.
The event hosts are paying for me to be there, to be a media presence at their event; I can't just dine-and-dash.
Whenever I go to a sports game and get waved through without paying at the gate, it's because they know I will do more than just sit on the bleachers and watch; I'll be on the field, walking up and down the field until my feet are sore.
Whenever I go to banquets, it's much the same. I'm not sitting, eating and socializing – I'm taking photos, writing down notes, remembering quotes and names.
5 - It's a lot of fun
Work? Being fun? What?
But it really is!
Despite how exhausted I am (usually mentally, sometimes physically, occasionally emotionally) at the end of the day, no matter how busy mornings are, as I scramble to get started on my to-do list, my job is honestly, genuinely, fun.
I've met people who I never would have known, gone places I never would have gone and seen things I never would have seen if this wasn't the career I chose to pursue. I get to do what I love (write and photograph) every single day, and I really enjoy being first-in-the-know when it comes to local news.
There is a lot of responsibilities riding on the shoulders of your local news reporters, and we have to stay humble through it all – but don't let our professionalism deceive you... we have a lot of fun just doing what we do.