Perspectives: What is 'News'?

What started out as a great week turned confusing. For me.

There is something from me in every issue of the newspaper now. I am still blown away by that. The big surprise of the week is that one of my photos ran along with one of my stories.

I don't have the photo here at home. I'm kicking myself for that one. The photo that made it into the paper is one composed like this one, with the foreground focused and the background blurred, yet it's the background content that is the main point of interest.

Since it was a story about a city's cleanup day, the foreground in that photo was a bag of trash on a roadside and in the blurred background was a school bus going by on the road. The bus was the only thing with bright color too, and that added to the dingy feel that trash on the side of a road tends to give. But, the photo ran on a page that wasn't color.

For the next issue, I was given an ad and told to make it into a story. What in the world can you write about a car and truck show when the sponsor of the show only says exactly what's in the ad? Three calls to the man and I couldn't get him to squeak out anything more. The proceeds of the show go to a program that just hired a director who knows nothing (yet) about how monies are raised and spent, though she did get those answers for me. Still, I ran out of words.

All that is inconsequential when it comes to the news of the day: Another major storm went through the area Thursday night, and tornados touched down right around the capital city. In fact, a tornado hit 200 feet away from the National Weather Service station and destroyed many planes in that airport. All the TV stations, radio stations and newspapers kept that NWS phone busy. I know because I tried to call.

Yep, I was given the task of talking to the NWS about what the storm did. I caught the fire and interviewed the senior meteorologist on duty at the time - by phone. Very pleasant man to talk to. So, after listening to the same things I had heard all day about it, I dug a little deeper and got him to talk about his experience of having to run to the storm shelter. I took the angle of human interest. Can't use it, I was told; I didn't talk about the paper's coverage area.

Back on the phone again, and this time, I talked to the meteorologist on the day shift who told me what and how they measure to determine the strength of a tornado by sifting through the debris. Teams were out, and no results back yet. That took the priority in the article, it was moved up, though they left in the human interest part. So much for catching the fire. I think they were talking about putting it as a sidebar, or adding it in to a senior writer's main story. They sat there until going to press, so it's doubtful that any of it was relevant in the end.


On my way out the door, I was given another story for Monday. I'm to get ahold of a 90 year old woman that is still a hair stylist - for dead people.


  1. squeek out anything more. s/b squeak
    The proceeds of the show go to a program that just hired a director that (s/b who)

  2. Thanks, boss! My errors are fixed.

    Is that 'editor' speak, that "s/b"? It took me awhile to figure out what that meant... Duh.



    P.S. Thanks for reading!