Picking Stories for Awards

I don’t write a story thinking that it’s award-worthy.

I don’t know if many people do.

I’ll assume that many reporters/columnists may go back after the story has run and reflect on it. They may say it’s award-worthy or not.

I’ve only submitted stories for this year’s CT SPJ awards. We didn’t submit a lot because, for Louisa and I, it was our first “year” of being full-time reporters. There wasn’t really much to submit, though, a lot had happened in the those months.

Of the two stories that I submitted, I received two second-place awards for papers with a circulation of under 18,000.

I don’t think I wrote a post on them because I didn’t want to toot my own horn. I didn’t think that was right and I still won’t do it.

Next month is the The New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) awards. Well, the entries are due next month. I have no idea when we’d be notified.

According to the NENPA web site, the NENPA is the professional trade organization for newspapers in the six New England states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.

My city editor asked me to find some stories that I think should be submitted. I thought it was going to take me five minutes, but I spent a good 45 minutes going through all of the clips I could remember from Michelle, Louisa and I over the last year.

It was pretty crazy to remember stories that I completely forgot about. Some happy, some sad.

I also didn’t realize how many articles we’ve all written in the last year. It’s mind-boggling to think that we do all of that. I find that as a point of pride. We work very, very hard each week and we really get a lot done.

I found 10 stories that stood out to me, by myself and the rest of the staff, and e-mailed them to my city editor. I haven’t heard back yet from him, but I’m excited to see what he picks.

I’ve learned that reporters and editors think differently. I know that’s an obvious thing to say, but it’s hard to explain.

I like to think that I have everything covered when I submit a story for my editors. They seem to think of everything.

I haven’t gotten that far yet.



What You Should be Reading: Government Shutdown

It’s been one of the craziest weeks I can remember in news.

The U.S. government is shutdown, a woman tried to ram her car into the White House and there doesn’t look to be any end in sight.

I’ll leave it at that and give some tweets that highlight everything.



You Can’t Cover Everything

This one happens more than you’d think.

As a reporter covering multiple towns, I’m sure that I’m not alone with trying to be two places at once.

With lots of meetings going on, I can usually get to two towns in one night. It’s not always perfect, but I get it done.

These towns aren’t exactly close together and, at times, it’s pretty hectic.

Meetings aside, there are a lot of events that we cover, as well.

Sometimes meetings get cut out those nights, or we try to do them all. It’s easier said than done, but most of the time we have to remind people that we just can’t cover everything.

Some newspapers cover all the events and leave the meetings out. Some papers are able to cover both. At the Chronicle we stick to the meetings and, if a event or situation arises, it’s decided on a case-by-case basis.

It’s not that we don’t want to cover any events. Events make for better pictures and, sometimes, are just more fun in general. But we stick to what we do and that’s it. I think our editors pride themselves on our meeting coverage, the loyalty of our sources and the dedication we have to hard news.

We have daily features, sure, but we are really a local newspaper.

As a reporter, it gets a bit frustrating when people get upset that you can’t come out to their event. I have no idea how many times I’ve had to explain our situation to others. Some respect it, while others get pretty upset. I can’t really blame them, but we just can’t do it. Why lie to them and say we’ll be there, when we know we won’t send anyone?

I think it’s realistic to expect to cover a lot of events and meetings, no matter what paper you are at. I think all reporters know that.

The stress of trying to cover as many events and meetings can add up. For me, it takes awhile to build up. You think you can do something, until you realize you can’t be in two places at once. It’s a pretty unsettling feeling. Even with great planning, a lot of things just fall through.

It’s just the way life is or we have to develop time travel.


Give People a Voice

I’ve said a hundred times that I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.

Just this past week I held up the paper a few times because of questions on my stories.

One of the questions stuck out to me.

My editor asked me if I had contacted a man at the center of a controversy in one of my towns. I told him I hadn’t. He gave me a puzzled look and said I had better make the call before the paper goes out.

I gave him a startled look and said, well, the man in question doesn’t have a say in the controversy. I was probably rude about it, too. I was mad at myself for not thinking of it. I was mad at myself because I knew I was wrong.

I immediately called the man, got some quotes and finished the story up.

My editor thanked me for getting it done. He said it’s crucial to give a named person in the middle of a controversy a voice.

He said it doesn’t matter if the person has a say in the matter, or not. It’s about giving them an opportunity to say what they want to say and, all the while, putting another quote into the story.

My editor said the story was fine the way it was, but, with the quotes from the man in question, the story was that much better. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I missed it.

While driving home after deadline, I really started to think about it.

How could I have missed that? How could I have been that engrossed in writing to not even give a courtesy call to the man?

I don’t have an excuse, but I’ll remember this one for a long time. If I’ve learned anything since I started full-time, it’s that it’s my job to give people a voice. It’s my job to get those voices out there.

My story wouldn’t have been biased had I not gotten those quotes in there. But, it wouldn’t have been the same story. It just wouldn’t have been complete.
A story always has to be complete.


No One Likes Corrections

I really hate them.

I’ve already talked here about a really, really bad one, but I just had another last week.

I really don’t know how I missed it. I have no excuse.

I thought I did my homework, too. I really thought I had double and triple checked this one.

Having the night shift the next day the story in question ran, I had to e-mail my bosses the correction. I think that made it worse for me. It was pretty humiliating.

I mean, how do you explain that you royally messed up? That never goes over well and I would have rather have done it in person. That may sound weird, but I like to own up to my mistakes in my stories. I know my editors respect that in people and that’s how I am.

I felt awful when I realized I had to e-mail it in.

The statement I made in a story related to a contract extension that happened before I started at the paper. I was briefed on it when I started last year and I had written about it previously probably 10 times in less than two years.

I knew this mistake. I knew it and I should have remembered it.

As soon as I got home after work that day, I had a bad feeling in my stomach. I had to look it up.

I did and realized that I was wrong in about five minutes. Yet, I was so sure that everything was fine not four hours earlier.

I couldn’t believe it. I sent my bosses the correction via e-mail as soon as I found out. I didn’t want it to linger in my head anymore. I just wanted to get it done with.

The problem? It’s never going to be done with.

Granted, many of our readers probably never saw the correction. That doesn’t matter because I’ll remember it.

I always will, or, at least I think I will.

It’s something that happens to everyone, no matter what paper they work for.

There’s just nothing college or anyone can say or do to make you prepare yourself for it.


Story of the Week 9/29

Classes help seniors enter the digital age


I’ve never met anyone who didn’t know how to use Google, until last Thursday.

I’m not picking fun at Noella. I just found it amazing that, as a great-grandmother, she wanted to get online and start using a computer.

It was incredible. I couldn’t put all of her past into the story, but I’ll never forget that interview.

What an amazing person.

Please read this one. It’ll be worth it.