It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

The end of my Central Michigan University era

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It started on the third day of my collegiate career.

I walked into Moore Hall 436 and filled out an application to become a sports reporter at Central Michigan Life.

It ended so much differently than I had imagined it that August 2006 day. I went to college being a sports-loving eager student writer wanting to dip my hat in the collegiate sports scene. I since became someone who learned and loved to cover any topic, using any medium I was able to.

CM Life was most likely the highlight of my college career, and taught me how to effectively communicate with an audience, sources, and other journalists.

I officially became a CMU alumnus on May 8, 2010. I will certainly miss Mount Pleasant and the people there, but I definitely left with a much broader sense of the world and my work field(s) than what I had going into school.

The most important aspect I learned, both through school, work and other parts of life? Be as flexible and as multi-faceted as possible.

Going into school, I wanted to focus on and do one big thing: be a sports reporter. I loved sports, I loved writing and I loved writing about sports. It was a perfect combination. I talked about it so much, to this day my parents still think that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

But I found that this was not the most practical of dreams shortly after beginning work at CM Life. After not receiving a sports position, I began working in news, covering general assignments in the beginning and expanding to beat writing my sophomore year with the Minority Student Services beat.  This was the first beat I had ever held, and had no clue how to cover one when I first took it on. But I soon learned quickly, after discovering that the 2008 MLK Week keynote speaker, Judge Greg Mathis, had dropped out less than a week before his speech and was being replaced by Judge Joe Brown. Discovering the news takes great sourcework and trust, something I was able to develop with the staff of the MSS offices.

After taking a year to be an editor, I returned to full-time writing for CM Life as the City of Mount Pleasant writer, covering city issues and the city and planning commissions. Covering local government was probably the best thing I ever did, because I was able to practice covering local politics (a must for community journalists) and also got to observe the way a city runs and operates. As a political science major as well, this gave me the opportunity to work in a governmental arena while still dispersing information to the public.

A snapshot from my author profile at cm-life.com. At the end of four years of working at CM Life, I estimate I composed almost 250 pieces, between stories, videos, and other works.

But writing alone would not be enough, I learned. Even though I picked up another major in political science, I did what many of my superiors keep telling me is important: I explored using other forms of media to communicate information.

I may not be the most talented when it comes to these forms, but I acquired a basic knowledge of how to properly embed items into a website, how to use a video camera and edit video and how to use design software.

While my strong suit continues to be writing, these other mediums have allowed me to see things in a whole new light. I can now think of how to use them to layer a story and provide more information that words alone cannot do. This concept in the journalism realm was probably the most interesting and most important idea I had learned through my peers and class.

I turned down two Big Ten schools (Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota) to attend mid-sized CMU. And overall, I’m happy I did. Not only was I able to jump right in and begin making a name for myself, I was able to do it in a smaller setting to begin covering, and using that as a platform, will be able to move on up to bigger cities, like the one I am in now for the next 3 months. I begin working tomorrow at the Grand Rapids Press, and am looking forward to seeing what life has in store for me. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of college.

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Written by David Veselenak

May 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm

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