Monthly Archives: April 2013

What I have learned at The Times-Delphic

When I read and think about past issues of The Times-Delphic, my thoughts hardly transcend the obvious gaffes on the page: an extra period here, no hyphen there. I only have a moment, so I only think about the small.

Big-picture thoughts, good or bad, rarely receive my care. I wrongfully assume I need a few hours — even a day — to contemplate my progress. Wrongfully, too, I make excuses about self-reflection.

I need Confucian or Aristotelian wisdom to truly reflect. I need to eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream before I can can explore the deep or complex.

And, the excuse I toss out most of all: I don’t have time.

In this week off, though, I have taken the time to expand my thoughts to the big picture and take a look at The Times-Delphic and journalism beyond the page. Though this week is as busy as any other, I put the excuses away (Ben and Jerry miss my old, expensive excuse, no doubt) and took a look at what I have learned in two years at the TD.

The more self-assured you are, the more likely a source is to open up to you. As a gentle person, I formerly hedged around asking potential sources to speak to me.

My interview request procedure went somewhat like this: “Can I please interview you? If not, that’s OK, too. Just let me down gently, please.”

OK, I may have exaggerated that last sentence.

Now, though, I focus on the source and let him or her know how valuable his or her thoughts on X subject are to the TD and me.

Today, my interview requests are more concise, clear and, I confess, a tad frank. Though the change in tone, which has developed slowly over my two years, yet shocks me, I know sources are more eager to talk to me when I focus more on them.

This “more of you, less of me” idea has grown throughout my Times-Delphic career.

To move beyond commas, hyphens and interview requests, journalism is truly about more of you and less of me.

There are always more of you I have a duty to inform. More of you I have a duty to interest.

Most of all, there are always more of you I have a duty (and desire) to serve.

Relays theme relevant beyond special issue

The Drake Relays: For some students, the Relays guarantee a week of alcohol, a week of lost IDs and keys, a week of lost money, a week of (supposedly fun) shambles.

At The Times-Delphic, though, the Relays guarantee two weeks of junk food, two weeks of words and images, two weeks of AP Style, two weeks of (actually fun) shambles.

Every year, we produce a 42-page issue devoted to Drake’s history, culture and future. This year, the TD Relays theme was velocity, or the rate of change in a particular direction with regard to time.

Today at 5 a.m., when I left the newsroom, my second TD Relays complete, I noted a similar theme in my own life.

Every day, I move toward my goal to work as a sports reporter at a major newspaper. Some days, I even ask, “Can I just start my career today?”

Thankfully, though, time steps in and forces me to slow down and learn the trade — a trade I naively assume I already know, at times.

I have always been impatient, but velocity, thankfully, has a ready-made remedy for career-antsy college sophomores, in time. Though I am eager to start my career, I know that I need to let time teach me to report ethically and fairly, handle stubborn sources and write clearly and concisely, among many other skills I have yet to master.

As I reflect on my second TD Relays issue, I hope the theme of velocity resonates for the readers, too.

Why the urge to ‘out-busy’ harms students

“I am so busy.”

A sentence I hear constantly.

As constantly as I crave Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. As constantly as I ascend the 48 steps to my room. As constantly as I check ESPN for the latest ATP and WTA news.

Though the sentence seems innocent enough, it reveals a socially toxic trend, one I confess I take part in: the out-busy. When a classmate describes his or her week, seven days usually replete in due dates, essays, projects and tests, my mind instantly swerves to my own week, one usually replete in the same stressors.

DSC02833A hasty “Wow!” later, I describe my own week, careful to accent the grave nature of my own stressors. I am always eager to out-busy my fellow students.

As fellow college students, though, we ought to comfort each other. We ought to ask when the essay is due, what the project is about and when the test is. The out-busy trend reveals that we are self-centered students who hardly accept that we are all stuck in a relentless state of busyness, one we hope leads to career success.

Plus, when we try to out-busy, we neglect a chance to learn.

“Your paper is about the decline of the Occupy Wall Street movement? Tell me more.”

However, I am yet stuck on my own more. More due dates, more essays, more projects, more tests. More busy. More me.

And, I confess, less you.

Clearly, I need to acknowledge that “more” is a staple of college. That we all balance many tasks and bear many stressors.

That I need less me and more you.

How about we discuss next week’s mutual busyness over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream?

Boston Marathon tragedy offers chance to redefine ‘neighbor’

As the Boston Marathon tragedy developed on the screen of my MacBook Pro today, as I stared at the bloody photos, the scared spectators, I felt a wave of sympathy. As “Did you hear about Boston?” echoed through the academic and residence halls at Drake, I realized that the tragedy, though a shock, yields a new chance for me, for us, even from far away.

Why we need to redefine 'neighbor'

Courtesy of Central Intelligence Agency

Even as I mourn the Boston victims and hope for justice, I commit my own injustice. Namely, I never consider — let alone mourn — the bloodbath at my neighbors’ place in Syria. Though an ocean separates us, I hardly acknowledge that 70,000 Syrians have died since the war broke out in March 2011.

Clearly, it’s easy to feel sympathy for and mourn my Bostonian neighbors. I confess, though, it takes more effort to even be aware of my Syrian neighbors — let alone mourn the rampant deaths in that region.

As I say, “Oh, that’s incredibly sad!” when I read the latest Boston Marathon tragedy update, I pledge to guide my cursor to the “Syria” section of the “World” tab and pay some respect to my other neighbors, neighbors I have long ignored.

My grasp of the word “neighbor” needs an obvious overhaul.

Though my quest requires changes in my outlook and my America-centric news routine, I am ready to repeal my own injustice as my country seeks justice.

I hope the changes make me a more aware journalist and more importantly, a more aware global member and a more aware neighbor. Tonight, Boston and Syria, each a neighbor, hold my concern and my sympathy.

Moving out (of my comfort zone)

Ready to move out (of my comfort zone)On June 1, I move out. Out of Des Moines. Out of my hometown. Out of the dorms at Drake. Out of, temporarily, the college newspaper scene.

Out of, hopefully, my comfort zone.

As I prepare to physically move out, I face a psychological move out, too, as I prepare for not one but two new jobs. In June, I move two hours away to work as a reporter and photographer at The Observer. In August, I move to my new role as Times-Delphic editor-in-chief.

Though both moves cue momentary stress, I am eager to start for several reasons.

At The Observer, I want to move beyond the section I know and love, one that prefers baskets and aces to court documents and police reports. Though news poses new challenges and a new style, I am ready for a change of pace.

That goal translates to my Times-Delphic job, too.

At The Times-Delphic, I plan to revamp the news section and rely less on the campus calendar and more on hard news. Though I throw the vague phrase “hard news” around constantly, I have a sense of what that phrase actually means for Drake and The Times-Delphic.

I want to talk to Drake students and faculty constantly. I want to learn what bothers them. I want to report on what bothers students and faculty rather than what speaker discussed global relations last Thursday night.

I hope both jobs strengthen my sense of “hard news” and perhaps, endear me to court documents and police reports as to baskets and aces.

When I move out on June 1, I hope to do more than pile my memories in boxes upon boxes (I always over-pack). I hope to move out of my comfort zone and move out of my sports-only outlook. To move to a new realm of news, one I hope welcomes me.

Embracing newness

Yesterday, I hired several members of my 2013-14 Times-Delphic staff. My staff. The phrase stumbles off my tongue, a sign that I adjust slowly to my new role and new power.

Adjusting to my new role as editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief. Even my own title trips off my tongue.

Even as I adjust to the newness — new staff, new tasks and new goals — I am eager to start in August. Eager to lead a small but lively editorial staff of 14. Eager to prove to myself and to the larger newspaper realm that reserved people can lead. Eager to encounter and overcome all kinds of dilemmas. Like everything else, I expect those dilemmas to feel new, even though I study and anticipate them every day as a Drake University journalism student.

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Learning to love the web

I entered my web page design course in a state of dread — even as a news-Internet student. But the glare exhausts my eyes, I moaned. But I love the smear of ink on my hands as I turn the pages, I whined. But I prefer the scratch of a pen to the click of a key, I reasoned.

Learning to love words on paper and on screen

Clearly, I made excuses for my nerves about web design. I was nervous to muddle through the medium I regularly dubbed a new language — one I refused to learn. Anchor text. Backlinks. Meta tags. Permalinks. Thanks to the class (and a helpful Internet glossary), though, I no longer fear the web. I understand that the web plays a powerful role in the field I love. And, that maybe, just maybe, I can love all words equally, whether on paper or on screen. Continue reading