This has been a week of firsts for me.
I packed my life (well, some of it) into less-than-sturdy cardboard boxes and moved two and a half hours east of my hometown. I moved into a place all my own (one that boasts the most blindingly pink bathroom I’ve ever seen).
Most notably, I began my first full-time job at my first “big-kid” newspaper, The Observer.
The locals here crave print copies of the bi-weekly paper, a desire that shocks me. Almost daily, readers (all of whom the receptionist greets by name, of course) drop in the newsroom to buy the latest issue.
This town is proof that print isn’t dead yet. Plus, I suspect when a local kid has a photo or even a mention in the paper, he winds up with a sky-high stack of that issue as all the neighbors donate their copies (for his scrapbook, obviously).
The paper is as much a news source as a space to share life’s milestones, and it’s clear that inclusion is second nature for the locals. Graduation open house invitations run in the paper, usually with the tagline, “All are welcome!”
At The Times-Delphic, I cover a single community isolated to the few blocks between University and Forest Avenue in Des Moines. Here, though, the community spans a few blocks to encompass a handful of rural towns linked by a web of winding highways.
That change has forced me to drive across Clinton County in pursuit of stories. As a navigationally challenged journalist, I’m resolute to master the trip from Goose Lake to Charlotte (pronounced “Char-lot,” strangely) to Low Moor and back to the newsroom — all without the syrupy voice of my GPS saying, “Turn right in 250 feet.”
Lastly, I’ve discovered that no one at The Observer has just one role. The copy editor doubles as bookkeeper. The photo editor doubles as an ads manager.
I’ve dabbled in a few elements of the paper already, too. I am a news writer, a features writer and a columnist. I also shoot photos.
Though only five days in, my first full-time job at a “big-kid” newspaper has yielded a host of new experiences, lessons and goals.
My first goal: Stop pronouncing the town of Charlotte like the name of Fern’s spider pal in E.B. White’s children’s classic.