I worked for a small-town community newspaper over the summer. I’m sure to a lot of people it sounds like a drag.
“So, Kyle, off the bake sale to take pictures?” some people would ask me.
Yes, I took my fair share of bake sale pictures and covered “soft” news stories, but I wouldn’t change the summer for anything.
I had my first real experience in a newsroom and that experience is invaluable. There’s nothing better than covering the news in a small town for your first official job. I learned so much about the job that I never would have learned at school.
Yes, I learn proper sentence structure, editing and how to make a story flow, but nothing will beat the experience of being thrown into the fire on your first day.
I’ll always remember that first news story. I was asked to cover the Prairie Dog Central’s “Great Train Robbery” – a fundraiser for Osborne House where people board a train and are robbed by some cowboys and cowgirls for all sorts of donations. The story was to be in the Winnipeg Sun’s Manitoba Times feature.
I was given the number to call and sat at my desk for a good hour thinking about the phone conversation. What would I say? What if she doesn’t take me seriously? This story is going to suck.
I finally called. The interview wasn’t the greatest. It was short. I stressed about how much content I had and wondered how I was going to stretch this out into a decent story. Finally some 375 words later it was complete and that was the last I heard of the story for a while.
My editor wanted me to go to the event and cover it for the local paper. That’s when I learned a cool thing about being a journalist – free access to a lot of events.
Shortly after my article ran I called PDC to set up some tickets to the event. I was amazed, because the woman on the other end of the phone was thanking me profusely.
Not only had the train ride sold out, but they broke a record in donations for the “Great Train Robbery.” She told me a massive influx of people ordered tickets the day my article came out in the Sun.
I was shocked that my writing had this kind of impact. People read my story, enjoyed what they heard and acted on that. I knew becoming a journalist was what I wanted to do.
That event gave me confidence in my writing and made me realize I made a difference not only for the PDC, but for Osborne House and for all of the people who went to the event based on my story.
That’s something CreComm never could have given me.