Overdue Update

A lot has happened since I started, and apparently abandoned, this blog. Its main goal was to chronicle the exploits of an individual in the journalism field who also happens to have introverted tendencies–A person who doesn’t always enjoy the company of other people, yet is required to for events requiring news coverage, if you will. It has so far done less than stellar. I’m currently not an entirely active journalist, maybe taking on one to two stories a month, which is somewhat to do with my own competency at reaching out to publications for freelance work. However, I’m also in a sort of transition in terms of my writing, mostly from a creative standpoint, but I suppose that could also bleed over to my journalistic writing.

Since I started this blog, I received my Bachelor’s degree in journalism, but had been a freelance journalist at a local weekly paper for a few months before that, along with what little I wrote for my college’s student-run newspaper. I believe I was a public relations intern at the hospital I worked at when I last posted, an adventure that didn’t do too much to further my career, so far, anyway.

During my final semester of college, I took two classes that seemed to change the way I viewed communication, the media, and essentially the world itself. Not necessarily a life-changing-move-far-away-and-experiment-with-crazy-drugs-to-find-who-I-really-am sort of change, but it more created a sort of eye-opening experience about the way we both consume and are presented with media, be it books, movies, television, or the news. One of my classes, mass communication theory, taught me some essential theories of communication, which I applied to a pretty hefty research paper about how advertisements affected people’s view of democracy, communism, and the American military during the Cold War. By analyzing various Cold War advertisements, I was able to see how the way they were portrayed to the public had the potential to alter the way the viewers saw democracy–as something of an absolute good–and communism–the bad.

I also took a class called contemporary media issues in which we discussed contemporary media and its effects on people. We discussed news, politics, reality TV, and various other topics as well as ways people reacted to them and why. This class, paired with what I learned in mass communication theory, showed me a lot that I was missing in the world. It’s a bit difficult to explain exactly what these classes did to alter how I view the world, but I think it created a new sense of rational thinking and skills for analyzing that I can apply to both my creative works as well as when I write an article for the newspaper. In terms of creative writing, I’ve been attempting to put a lot more meaning into my books and short stories. I attempt to tackle common problems in contemporary society and try to play out some resulting consequences of our actions, usually focusing on acceptance and tolerance by showing the lives of particularly intolerant individuals. In terms of journalism, I think this new look at the media could potentially allow me to present my stories in a way that might not necessarily play to the standard media that people expect, and perhaps provide a new edge to the stories. Whether I’m actually completing this objective or not, I can’t really say. This newly acquired experience is still too fresh to really get any significant feedback, but I like to think that I’m on to something pretty exciting.

With all that being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what I produce as well as what sort of feedback it may yield. Granted, tackling contemporary issues are oftentimes met with resistance and a “you can’t say that! It’s against my beliefs so that makes it wrong!” attitude, but I suppose I could somewhat link it to the idea of banned books, and leave you with this quote:

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde

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It’s Alive!

*Looks around at the emptiness*

Hello?

*silence*

Hellooooo?

Hmm. This is the perfect time for a weeping angel or a Dalek to come out of nowhere.

*Looks around some more*

Hm. Yup. This place is deserted.

Oh, hey there! I couldn’t see you through all the nothing. Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I know. Well, things have been pretty slow on the journalism front, sort of. I’ve just been covering a few small, local events. I covered a ribbon-cutting ceremony the other day. Nothing too exciting. Got some quotes with relative ease and snapped a few photos. Not too bad.

Although, I have been working as a public relations intern at the hospital where I’m also a housekeeper, and that has been pretty cool. I’ve been working on a sort of magazine/newsletter to be released in February, which has also made me teach myself how to use InDesign, which is turning out to be a really great program. It might even be opening a few doors for me in the somewhat near future. So, that’s been pretty fun.

Anyway, I’m still alive, and hopefully journalism things will pick up soon so I can have some cool stuff to talk.

Hopefully soon we shall meet again.

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Election Day — I Guess I Nailed It

As you may or may not recall, I was asked to be a stringer for the Associated Press phoning in results for the Nov. 5 elections. Now, as an introvert, I was a bit nervous. I was going into a brand new situation with unknown variables. Things that worried me:

1. I’d never been to the county building before, and city parking can be madness.

2. I had no idea what was inside this building, where to go, or what to expect.

3. Phoning in results — Calling the Associated Press hotline to give them information.

Here’s what happened:

1. Parking was no big deal, really. Aside from having to turn around because of a confusing bus lane, I managed to find a decent spot next to the building.

2. This is where things get a little more interesting. I’d never been inside the building, but a security guard directed me to where the election center would be, where a less-than-pleasant woman told me to wait out in the hall where the results would be posted on a projector, and that the polls didn’t close until 9:00. I knew that, and it was only 7:30, and I didn’t have to check in with the AP until 8:30. However, that was fine as I had to find out the absentee information and some other stuff before checking in, and I had plenty of time to do that.

After a not so smooth check-in call, I was ready for the polls to open. Ready for the rest of the press to arrive. Ready for some sort of mad rush of politicians to rush about, watching the polls, screaming at the screen.

Yeah. That didn’t happen. In fact, the guy who gave me the absentee information asked me why I wasn’t reporting from home. I could only tell him that it was against the rules I was given. I was the only member of the press there, and the lady working the computer didn’t seem to know much of what she was doing. In fact, I had to run the computer most of the time while scribbling down numbers and phoning in results, which leads me to number 3.

3. Phoning in results is ridiculously easy. Call the hotline, tell them the state from where you’re reporting, give them the reporting number, read them the updated votes. Boom. Easiest $200 for two hours work I ever made. Well, until the end, at least, where I thought I messed up.

For my final call in, I had to give a few extra details. Details that weren’t immediately available for me, and that I didn’t know I was going to be asked. So, I asked the poll people, who gave me some less-than-confident answers, and the guy with whom I was speaking from the AP talked to his supervisor, chuckling about something, and then said I was all set.

Whatever. I still get paid, and I got the experience for my resume. Good deal.

So, the next morning I sent a thank you email to the AP woman who contacted me about working with the AP, and she sent me an email a few hours later thanking me, and that she hopes I’ll be around in the future. Something I thought was kind of a generic “thanks for your help!” email. Until, however, I received an email from my editor at the paper for which I freelance, who was contacted by the editor I was helping on election night. Apparently, I’m a “find” and they want me to help with three elections in 2014.

Whoa. The Associated Press, a major newspaper, wants me to come back and help them three more times next year. Here I thought I did a terrible job, and instead apparently I nailed it!

So, that felt pretty great!

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Me? Working With The Associated Press? Yes Please!

I received some fantastic news Thursday. As I was meeting with a source to get some information on a fundraiser to help fund the arts at the school, I received an email from my editor telling me the Associate Press was looking for a stringer to call in vote numbers on election night Nov. 5. Then, I received another email, which was the message my editor sent to the AP contact, giving me an excellent recommendation.

It all seemed pretty overwhelming at first. I mean, I’ve only been a freelancer for about three or four months, and I’ve only covered small events and meetings, and now I was receiving a recommendation to work alongside the Associated Press on the elections!

Seems like a pretty solid resume booster.

However, I’m still pretty nervous about it. As one who doesn’t do so well talking on the phone, I have to make at least six phone calls to the New York City AP office with poll updates, along with updates ever half hour if there are delays. I’m definitely not the most fluent speaker in general, especially on the phone.

However, there’s no way I could pass up the chance to help out the Associated Press. So, I’m hoping the excitement will relax my nerves enough for me to have a smooth night.

As for today, after working a few hours at the dreaded day job, which can’t go away soon enough, I’m off to a neighboring town to cover the final day of a small-town development workshop. Some designs are going to be presented, and there may be some fairly big-name local speakers. Shouldn’t be too bad. Perhaps I can finally try out my new camera.

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The Event That Never Was

I’d really like a DSLR, but this seems to work well enough.

Today, I was supposed to cover an event at a local college campus. They were having a sort of alternate Project Runway thing called Project Junkway, where teams tried to make clothes out of up-cycled materials and then model them. I was looking forward to this event, mainly because I just got a new camera and haven’t had a chance to really get to use it–aside from taking some pictures of my cats and my wife.

However, I arrived at the campus after rushing around town to make sure I got everything done, and to make sure my wife got to work on time, and I was informed that the event had been cancelled due to a lack of participants, and that it is being reschedule for sometime next semester.

Lame.

So, no photos. No article. No awkward encounters. No struggling with introversion.

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What Makes a Journalist?

Just because I run around writing quotes in this notebook, does that make me a journalist?

I’m taking a media law class in college, and today we were discussing shield laws–laws that protect a journalist from having to reveal his or her sources–and one of things that was touched upon was what makes a person a journalist? Who is protected by this law? Is it someone who is a full-time reporter at a newspaper? Is a freelancer considered a journalist, especially now that freelance opportunities are everywhere? Far more people make a living as a freelance writer than ever before. What about a blogger?

We discussed a court case where a freelance reporter was writing a book about a case she had been working on, and someone wanted her to reveal her sources, but she wouldn’t. The supreme court ruled that she wasn’t protected by the shield laws because she was a freelance writer. She still reported the news, though. Does that technically make her a journalist?

What do you think defines a journalist?

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Make A Difference Day

MADD

Some ladies who work at a nearby correctional facility set this up for Make A Difference Day.

I got an email from my editor yesterday asking if I’d be able to cover the setup of the Make A Difference Day… Uh, well, it’s kind of a thing. Essentially some people who work at a nearby correctional facility decorated some pumpkins and made the flagpole out front of the hospital (also where I currently work weekends) to help make it more fall-ey. There really weren’t a lot of details provided, aside from that they would be setting up from 1:00 to 2:00, and that I didn’t have to be there at 1:00 exactly.

Okay… Well… Lack of details don’t bold well with an introvert. I had no idea what to expect, where this “event” was, or if it even was an actual “event.” Why have me cover the setup of an “event” but not cover it?

But, I like money, and I still feel that I’m far too new to say no to any story, as I’ve only been a freelancer for about a month and a half. Although, because I work at the hospital, I wasn’t too worried, because I’m familiar with the area and I know the people who work there. Should I need to ask, I already know these people well enough to be comfortable asking them something on the spot.

But, that still left the unknown time of this “event.” So, I showed up around 1:30 and had no idea where to go. So, I asked the switchboard operator and she paged the hospital’s PR lady, and she came out and told us that the correctional facility people finished early and were out having lunch.

Damn. But, no big deal. I was able to go home and have a quick lunch with my wife, then it was back to the hospital.

I returned at about 2:15, and they had returned from lunch. It was time. Time to go and actually talk to people. I had no idea how many people, either, so it was all just a big fun surprise.

It ended up being five ladies and a photographer. No big deal. As a member of the press I don’t have to worry about having my picture taken, which is something else I don’t necessarily like. Plus, the hospital’s PR lady is good about introducing the press, so she handled that for me as well, allowing me to avoid another potentially awkward situation.  The ladies said a few words, and then offered to email me a bunch of stuff about what they do as a part of Make A Difference Day. Quite a relief that was. I got a name or two and a couple of quotes, but then… Then it was time for small talk. *Shudder*

I don’t do small talk.

Me: “Oh, yeah, everything looks great. Um… Yup. Looks like rain. Hmm. Yeah. OK.”

Luckily, the other people were much better at it than I am, so I was able to just stand on the outskirts and listen and take notes.

So, all in all, not a bad “event,” if you could even call it that. I would’ve preferred a few more details about what exactly I was walking into, but I think I handled myself pretty well, and I was able to avoid a large amount of awkward encounters.

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The Introverted Journalist — What to Expect

Some of you may have followed me here from my creative writing blog, while others are newcomers. Firstly, I’d like to welcome you to The Introverted Journalist. This is my space to talk about being an introvert and a journalist. Now, I don’t intend on being too introvert-heavy here. I won’t be blathering on about how I don’t always function well with large groups of people and how I enjoy my alone time. However, I will be discussing my path in journalism and how being an introvert affects it, with no shortage of jokes along the way. Now, onto a little info about me as a journalist:

I currently freelance for a small newspaper called the Livingston County News (The LCN). This is my first official newspaper job in the real world, which I managed to get while in my senior year of college–majoring in print journalism–which I think should count for something. I’ll be using this to build my portfolio so that–when I graduate–I can go out and hopefully get a full-time reporter job.

Ideally, I’d like to be a full-time novelist, but, as many of you may know, that’s difficult to achieve. So, because I like having a place to live, food, a car and clothes, I figured it would be good to have something I could use to support myself while I work my way toward living off my books. Seems like a pretty logical thing to do. Plus, a writing job can only help my novel writing, and writing novels can only help my journalism, each acting as the whetstone for the other.

So that’s what you can expect from this blog, and hopefully you’ll enjoy what I have to say.

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