Newspapers demanding but fun

Published 8:47 pm Monday, October 12, 2009

Last week, you got the opportunity to hear from our regular staff columnists about what it means to them to work in the newspaper business.

With last week being National Newspaper Week, we all — except me — reflected on the business of newspapers and how we got into it.

I had something else I was itching to write about last week, but now I’d like to share my experiences.

I’ve been working here at the Suffolk News-Herald for more than three years. Although I can honestly say that I had no clue what I was getting into when I began steering toward the path of journalism, it has been fun, hectic and very rewarding.

As a college sophomore, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my eventual English degree — until I signed up on a whim for an introduction to journalism class. One of our first assignments was to cover an event that was happening on our Longwood University campus that week. I chose a meeting about dorm housing that had many students’ feathers ruffled. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy covering the meeting, interviewing students and administrators afterward and writing the story, but I got an A on the assignment.

After that, I knew I had found my calling. I was attracted by the lofty ideal of protecting the First Amendment, the idea of seeing my name in print, and the opportunity to actually make a living by writing.

However, nobody told me that protecting the First Amendment would sometimes require 16-hour days. The excitement of seeing my name in print wore off after the first dozen or so times. And as for the whole “making a living” thing — don’t get me started.

Rest assured, there have been plenty of days when I’ve looked longingly at janitors in government buildings and thought, “Why didn’t I do that?” This job is fast-paced and high-stress. It sometimes demands everything I have to give.

However, it is definitely something new and different every day. Our editor, Tim Reeves, likes to say that this is the only business where we start completely from scratch and make our product over again every day. That means that it’s never the same — one day, I can be traipsing through a soybean field covering an agricultural story, and the next day, I could be at a city council meeting, and the next day, I could be covering a tornado that just ripped through the city.

Through it all, it’s very easy to get discouraged. But we always appreciate when readers tell us they liked a particular story we wrote or photo we took. That really makes it all worthwhile.