No two days are ever alike.
Those are words I have used to tell others about the newspaper business at other newspapers I have worked at, including when I spoke to students at schools or gave tours.
I have worked at mid-sized, a twice weekly and small-town papers. I have worked all over Texas, from North Texas to West Texas to the Panhandle to Southeast Texas. And now Central Texas. I have been at the KDH since last May, and just took over the Cove editor position.
As I said, if people want to know what the business is like, it is just that: Monday won’t be like Tuesday, and Tuesday won’t be like Wednesday, and so on.
It’s particularly more true at the smaller newspapers — and I’ve worked for a few of those — where reporters will take on multiple duties and beats. One morning you might be covering a wreck, and that night you might be assigned a school board meeting or community event.
Breaking news happens regularly, no matter where you work. Just as I was writing this column, I had to pause to place a story online about a slaying that occurred in Killeen.
You learn to become versatile in the newspaper biz — or else you may not stick around long. You learn the tricks of the trade, of course, such as reporting and writing on deadline, but you also learn how to use a camera and perhaps the intricacies of page design and Photoshop and how to use social media. You learn to juggle different assignments.
You name the beat, and I have probably done some reporting on it: hard news to business to education to religion to sports. And a little medical, entertainment, politics and courts thrown in.
Sometimes you will get a little exposure to a beat but still cover something memorable: At one paper, I covered a high-profile murder case that drew the attention of television’s “48 Hours.” The “48 Hours” story was interesting because I got to interview host Richard Schlesinger when he was there for the first trial in 2009. Yeah, it was kinda cool for my folks to see me at the trial when the episode aired on television.
Favorite stories in my career? Too many to name.
Least favorite stories: Nothing that stands out at the moment.
Favorite beat? Probably education and sports. As far as sports, who doesn’t love the “toy department” of the newspaper? From a creative standpoint, writing sports stories can be the most satisfying and challenging aspect of the job because you have to 1.) watch the action and keep track of stats, and perhaps shoot pictures 2.) interview coaches and players afterward 2.) write on deadline and provide a sharp description of what happened — either the proverbial thrill of victory or agony of defeat — from the game, match or event.
On the education front, I miss talking with students and faculty, whether it was for a story on their everyday activities or events or interviewing students who, say, got admitted to Harvard, or chatting with the college instructor who explained the essence of acting (actors must two traits, he told me: presence and depth).
Least favorite beat? Probably government. The individual, daily stories aren’t difficult, but sitting through meetings in some places can be a trial. At one city council I covered, the city manager/administrator spoke so softly that his voice was occasionally incomprehensible. At other places, it was the prickly personalities of the council body itself, or the board/council members who fussed and fought over every expense, that made the job taxing.
Whatever you do in the reporting aspect of the business, there’s rarely a dull minute ... or day.
DON MUNSCH is the editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.