Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Snail mail. Yes!

I got my first piece of snail mail at my desk today.


It's addressed to me, as "SPORTS REPORTER."

For the record, its a copy of The Source Book of Multicultural Experts. I met someone that works for a marketing resource company at SAJA, and all I got was this handbook. And possibly a future contact.

The newsroom mailroom even x-ray screened it for me. I feel so safe.

What was your first piece of snail-mail?

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Stringer Bell Report

Well, as DSands has so eloquently and proudly pointed out, the last three weeks of my life have consisted of me traveling up and down the state of Delaware's highways (yes, that drive DOES take longer than 15 minutes) covering everything from a thrilling season opener in football to writing a feature about a bodybuilder whose remarkable perseverance should serve as a lesson for everyone in all walks of life. Needless to say I've been enjoying my time as a freelance sports writer for two different newspapers (a daily and weekly), and while the need and desire for full-time work is as strong as it ever was, I do understand that the process is a grind, and that I'll appreciate this time in the long run once I am able to secure a full-time position as a sports writer. However, part-time work has proven to be fun.

I check my inbox for the assignments during the week and I either get giddy (as was the case with Friday night's football game for the weekly that turned out to be a stirring come-from-behind win for the road team), or I get nervous and start studying to cover a sport I have little to no experience with, such as volleyball. Either way, the excitement is always there, the hunger hasn't gone anywhere and the passion for telling a story in a way that the readers can be informed and feel like they were right there is always going to be there.

Eventually, I know I'll break through and earn a full-time gig somewhere, and God forbid the feelings and emotions I describe ever become old hat. Right now, I'm enjoying playing my part as a bench player, filling in whenever and however I can, because once I earn that first starting job, whoever lost it is not getting it back. At all.

Posted by Chris at 11:09 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

An Ode to Spice, my new favorite (apologies for the bad poetry)

When I walk into Council Chambers, my heart lights up to see you sitting there,
You, John Spice*, with your Rhode Island laissez faire.

You sit up front, quiet as the night begins,
I don't have to wait long before the silence ends
"Do I hear a motion," the councilor says, and your arm shoots up in the air,
Voting will have to wait; you've got something you need to share.

I sit up in my chair and wait for you to get to the mic,
The words that come next will inevitably make my night:

"I'm Roman Catholic, I wasn't prepared for this...I would definitely tax them," you say about a church looking for a break;

An ordinance on windmills is a good idea, you say because: "It's about protecting the people. Protecting the pedestrians. And our swimming pools."

Oh, John Spice, how I love you.

Spicey boy, with your sweeping arm jerks and unmoderated outbursts
You make my meeting go by so much quicker.
And your smokers cough? It couldn't get much thicker.

When I'm bored, I just take a glance at you,
With your rumpled sweatshirt and sockless shoes.
You never match.
I love that.
A guy like you has no precedent,
John Spice, you're my new favorite resident.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent.

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Posted by T Dot at 12:14 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Where do you get story ideas?

My great, and very talented friend ran into a story idea while riding the Red Line train today and she told me about it.

"I was on leaving Park Street toward Cambridge and this dude gets on playing Stevie Wonder and clears the aisles," she said during a chat on GMail. But wait, it gets better.

"He started break dancing in the middle of the train, then he walks down the aisle, grabs two railings and does a back flip. [I'm thinking] like this never happens in Boston.

"Oh this is wobby, I like it," he says, and does a back handspring on a moving train...this is all between Park and Charles. It was really cool."

That's when I started thinking.

If I saw this in person I'd be thinking as a writer that I need to write this story. But sometimes I think I'm too shy to do what she did: get the story.

"He's apparently a part of a larger traveling performance group from NYC," she found, "but sometimes he breaks away from the group to do his own thing."

I see crazy things like this all the time. Like the guy in Times Square I saw last year who charged people a dollar to tell him off. Like, all the way off. He made money, too. People actually told this guy their life's problems. He actually listened. It was amazing.

But I didn't have the [guts] to ask him what his name was.

Of course, for her part, she got the whooooole story about the Stevie Wonder guy.

"He's 22," she gushed, "and has big muscles."

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Posted by Darren Sands at 8:08 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That's my mans and 'nem

Can I tell y'all how proud I am of Chris?

Yes I can.

We all know the dude can flat out write. He's been stringing for the past couple of weeks for the News Journal in Delaware, and turned out this doozy on a bodybuilder who broke his hip at 15 and went on to become Mr. Delaware.

I envy his drive. The kid finally got a break and now he's tearing it up.

Keep doing your thing.

Posted by Darren Sands at 4:09 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How many picas of grief are enough?

I was browsing The New York Times Web site this morning and saw some photos from a 9/11 memorial that happened in the city. The photo was featured prominently in the middle of the Web site, on the main screen.

I glanced over it and kept moving. Didn't stop to read the story, look at the pictures or, I'm ashamed to admit, say a prayer for those who lost their lives in the event. I just moved on to the next story.

Later in the day, I revisited the site, expecting again, to glance over the photos of flowers, grieving family members and flags. Instead, I saw a photo of Sen. John McCain speaking to the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I did a double take. For a spit second, I was offended. Here we were at ground zero and I'm hearing about John McCain instead of these attacks which took so many lives. But then I realized that really, I didn't need the memorial story. I knew what it was going to say before I read it. That's why I passed it by.

But I guess I still just wanted to know it was there. Despite my lack of interest in it.

Today, in the City Room, The Times is publishing first person accounts from reporters who covered the 9/11 attacks. One post, from Style reporter Joyce Wadler, particularly struck me.

"I’m not too crazy about this idea. 9/11 stories. Does anybody really need any more? Aren’t the pictures enough?" she writes. "The thing about these 9/11 stories, they seem to me to have become war stories, entertainments, the thing you trot out at a dinner party. "

Save the people directly impacted by the attacks, most people have, at most, respect for the event, and at the least, a sort of weariness that comes with having a single day rehashed in excruciating detail.

So on to the journalism: How do we as reporters advance this story? We write about Iraq every day. Osama just released a new tape so he's in the news. We cover the memorials, the flags and the ceremonies.

Do we give people more or do we report on the burnout that some people are experiencing surrounding the commemoration (a friend of mine wrote a Facebook note today telling people to 'it's okay to get over 9/11,' and he wasn't met with open arms)?

What else can we do? Or should we do anything?

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Posted by T Dot at 4:20 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

I (Heart) West Warwick

It makes me chuckle when I hear things like this from my sources:

"I'm only giving this to you, Talia. Not to that other paper. That other reporter just makes me nervous. He's so jittery."

One of the officers I use as a source at my local police department said that to me yesterday. I could barely stand I was laughing so hard.

It's funny.

I've been covering West Warwick for .... 13 months now, and people know me. Not just as the major metro daily reporter, but they know me. Talia. They smile when they see me. I lean back in my chair when they call and we chat. They say hilarious things about life, politics and that other paper to me.

And I love it.

Don't get me wrong: sometimes the daily life of being a bureau reporter weighs on me. But many days, when I'm out conducting interviews, shooting the breeze with cops and just being in my town, I love it. I should do it more often. And it makes me feel really good that people trust me with their stories. I never get anyone who says they won't talk to me because I constantly misquote them. And they feel comfortable enough with me to tell me when I've got something wrong or when they disagree. And they know that I'm professional enough to run a correction if necessary, but that I'll hold my ground if they're trying to blow smoke up my butt.

I have a relationship with the Town of West Warwick. And the more that I think about it, it's not such a bad one either.

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Posted by T Dot at 4:10 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

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