My grandfather, dear Poppy, told me long ago that if we aren't learning something new all the time we aren't growing. I took that to heart. But never more so than this last week when I learned to put together a newspaper. Yes, I've written hundreds of articles over the years. I was an education reporter for a year, business reporter for another year, city beat editor for two years, editorial writer on and off for many years. All local, the best journalism training grounds on earth. Learned a lot as magazine contributor as well, but that's another story. I know not to bury the lead, check quotes and pack a punch.
But this week I learned a whole new set of lessons.
An on-line newspaper is another thing entirely. A hybrid between a newspaper and a newsletter: features are brief, more space is devoted to event announcements and a lot of time is spent summarizing press releases that are way too long and terribly written. In three days I wrote roughly 10 short articles and re-wrote another 10 notices, as well as a sports recap, police blotter and recap from the district attorney's office. In between that I researched a few controversial subjects, hunting down comments from people hard to reach. I made sure there was adequate art to accompany key pieces and tried to obtain original photos to distinguish the newspaper from its print competitors. I directed the layout editor on what to delete, how to sequence stories and what headline to use in the email alert. There's a lot to being a one-woman show.
Exhausting. Exhilarating. Fun. Frustrating. Most importantly, I learned some important lessons that will surely serve me well in the increasingly cyberspace- oriented land of journalism.
I'm glad I only have to do this for a month or so. This is not the way I imagined my semi-retirement. Still, I am grateful once again for the opportunity to reach beyond my own boundaries and perhaps contribute something in the process.
And, once again, my adopted home has presented me with an opportunity to make another mark and extend myself just a bit further into the lovely land called Laguna Beach. This place that has afforded me so much, and reminds me daily to always expect the unexpected. A lovely way to move forward into senior citizenship. Who knows what's next!
Check it out at www.stunewslaguna.com.