Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How I Became a Reporter

The following post is actually the first column that I wrote at the newspaper. I thought I would post it to explain a little bit of how I came to work as a reporter/photographer at my local small town newspaper, where I've been since 2009.
"As I crossed the stage at Louisiana Tech University’s Thomas Assembly Center a few years ago I was not sure how I would implement my journalism degree as my career. I, of course, have always loved to write, which is evident from the hoards of journals I have kept since childhood and the many short stories I have penned. Therefore it was a completely natural decision to enter journalism. I have been documenting everyday events, quotes and trends of my family, friends and community all my life. I was just not positive in which direction my training would take me.

"Journalism provides so many career options and possibilities. I could do broadcast, work for a magazine or even dip into the public relations side. Though most people who know me thought and still think I should be reporting live for CNN or FOX News while dodging explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan. (No, thank you.) There was one thing I knew after graduation though. I was not planning on working for a newspaper.
Me in my office
"Do not get me wrong. I have always loved print journalism, especially the newspaper industry, but I was convinced it was not for me. I had interned at a daily newspaper during my junior year and had thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even became the only student intern to write a weekly column, which was a great experience. Despite the enjoyment, I did not feel suited for the fast-paced, get the story out in 20 minutes lifestyle that came with the newspaper world, especially a daily. But when my current boss called me to speak about a job possibility, I was all ears.

"I worked for this newspaper during my senior year of high school to get a real-life perspective of journalism before I declared it as my major. I cannot explain how great the staff is here. I wish every newspaper was run like this publication. It is definitely one of a kind. After graduation, I was offered a position as a reporter for a small newspaper outside of Dallas but after speaking with the editor I would not even consider it. I knew I would not strive in the atmosphere and I would bottom line: be pretty miserable away from my family at the mercy of an editor I knew nothing about.
"Prior to my boss’ phone call, I had worked at a local nursing home for the past seven months as the Ward Clerk. The job was totally out of character for my degree and background but I knew I was there for a reason. The medical field was a whole other world I had never experienced or expected to experience. But I fell in love with the residents and interaction with them was a highlight of my day. The staff there was also great. God has greatly blessed me in the co-worker department, among thousands of other ways.

"After my college graduation, I was fortunate to enjoy a summer in Europe and the Middle East. I backpacked through the United Kingdom for three weeks with my best friend and headed to Jordan for two months to study Arabic with a group of students from around the country. I had plans to work as a journalist and ministry assistant for missionaries out of Mississippi, but when I returned from Jordan in August the job ended up not working out due to the economy. I was left with my Plan B, which was to work with my grandmother at the grain elevator until I could find a “career.” Yet with the horrible weather that central Louisiana experienced in early fall the crops in and around the area was almost completely destroyed. There was no need for me at the job.

Looking very reporter-ish (lol) while on assignment...
"I had no idea what I was going to do and what God had in store. It is so hard for me not to know what is going on or to not have a million backup plans for life situations. But God does not operate like that and I am sure he has great amusement over “my plans.” But looking back on all the plans now I know God had wanted me here all along. I just had to be kept busy for a little while until the opportunity came up. And here I am sitting in “my office” at the white distinguished building on Third Street."

Here are some job highlights from my first two years with the newspaper:

My first photo assignment for the newspaper

How'd that one get in there?!? (lol)
I won a 2nd place award for Best Sports Photo in our press state division for this photo.