I finally did a story I’d been waiting for impatiently. Ever since I got back after the schools’ holiday break, I’d been doing an intensive search for local tsunami ties in Glendale, and figured that the community college would be my best bet. It turned out to be a jackpot – I wrote about a part-time professor who was in Phuket the day of the tsunami. I heard about him through the college’s foundation office. I do my best to maintain a good working relationship with them, even through the good and bad stories, simply because they’re the ones with a finger on the pulse of the college. They had emailed me and given me the professor’s name, but not his number because he was still a bit depressed over what he’d seen and left in Thailand. But he ended up emailing me Saturday night (I’d been working a late shift, because of an evening party) and I had set up the interview with him promptly on Tuesday (my Monday). Unfortunately, the rains brought down a river of mud and dirt onto Mountain Street, so the college was closed Monday and Tuesday to help the city restrict traffic. Obviously, we rescheduled for Wednesday, and, oh yeah, I even got lost! (I went to the wrong cafeteria).
I was somewhat nervous about doing the story, because to be quite honest, since I’ve been on the education beat, I’ve been doing a lot of stories by phone/computer – it’s easier for me, since I type much faster than I write, but a crutch because then I can’t get the color that is usually vital to a story.
Anyway, I think I did OK on this story – it seemed to flow well because I did a mental review on my notes on what would be the best lede. I made an effort to use image-invoking language and did my best to remain under 200 lines (I hit 131).
The language he used was actually a little more graphic, but hey. This is a family paper. Plus there was a lot more info he told me about, but, of course, I had to keep it within a decent length.
In other news, we got another call from my heckler today. This is an older dude who seems to look for my byline so he can count the number of “saids” in my stories and briefs. I guess he wants me to use “replied,” “exclaimed” and “sighed” more often, or something. Anyway, for a period of time when I was a police reporter, he would call me every day and criticize my stories and briefs. He once advised me to consult with my (male) co-workers for advice on how to write. He also once called for an editor, got my former city editor Amber, and said in a cranky voice, “I asked for an editor.” Amber, replying in a similarly testy voice, said, “I am an editor.” He was like, oh. I’m not sure who he is – I think in his first call ever to me he identified himself and left a number, but I deleted it in typical, oh-another-crazy-caller fashion. Oh, but no – this guy is my own personal heckler. I am still trying to figure out if he just hates me or women reporters in general. Anyway, this was his message (left on Jackson Bell’s voice mail):
Jackson, in your Jan. 11 article about the $200,000 in jewelry stolen, its not clear in the article whether police was involved. It looks almost like Darleene might have written the article, because every one of her sentences or most of her sentences end with the word “said” and then a period. You might reread this article and see if she wrote it or you.