It's time to ramble on…

The thoughts of a young journalist in southeastern Michigan

My year in review: It’s been a wild one!

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It has been a crazy 2010.

It started with this blog, which began as a class assignment for my online journalism class. I had held a blog previously, but I saw this site as a great way to help grow as a journalist after graduation. And I’m proud of myself for continuing it (not to mention the “A” I received for this site).

I’ve grown a lot since I began the year covering the first Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting for Central Michigan Life. I served as online editor of my alma mater’s newspaper this spring, doing all things Web-first and managing the paper’s website and social media pages. The experience allowed me to take a bit of break from the grind of running editorial content as a news and managing editor. But it gave me the opportunity to pursue one of the best decisions I felt I made this year: take over the Mount Pleasant city beat.

As someone who didn’t have an internship until after graduation, this decision was one that prepared me for the “real world.” Covering university-related issues is great, but community news orgs want you to cover local government. I was able to cover more than a dozen meetings, dealing with complex issues such as budget slashing, infrastructure and business. The city of Mount Pleasant is a great place to get experience with covering, and I highly recommend Central Michigan University j-students to give it a shot.

The highlight of the year reporting-wise, though, came this summer working on the politics desk as an

The press pass I was issued when I arrived at the airport to cover President Barack Obama's landing. I had two by the end of the summer, the other coming when he spoke at the groundbreaking for the LG Chem lithium ion battery plant in Holland.

intern with the Grand Rapids Press. The first assignment was to cover a town hall with soon-to-become Gov.-elect Rick Snyder, and it only got better from there. Overall, I met three candidates for governor, Spoke with several state legislatures, the mayor of Grand Rapids, and added two White House press passes to my collection of White House press passes (which brought my total to two).

The opportunity to cover politics during one of the most heated political primary years in Michigan was nothing short of spectacular. There was always something to write about in politics, and it never got old. Writing on several general assignment pieces allowed me to meet and see the best charitable organizations Grand Rapids had to offer, including the Ronald McDonald House, Gilda’s Club and the Blandford Nature Center.

My reporting was capped with a giant profile piece on Michigan State Sen. Jim Barcia, a politician who is retiring after 34 years as a legislator at the state and federal level. I drove down to Lansing to spend time with the Senator in the Capitol (which I can’t help but marvel at every time I go there), and met with him in his office. After meeting with him and his wife at their home for a behind-the-scenes look, I crafted a piece looking back at his career. It is the biggest piece I’ve written to date, and I haven’t spent so much  on a piece before. It turned out well, and was posted on two entries on The Bay City Times’ page.

Which brings me to perhaps what I learned the most this year: Web posting. I got a big dose of online reality when I began at the Times in August. Like I’ve said previously, the cuts in print have forced the Booth Mid-Michigan newspapers adapt their news model, and I was thrown right into the mix. Stories were still important, especially for print, but most of our day is consumed by Web posts on MLive.

This has showed me the power of the Web at it’s finest. Especially Election Day, when I was responsible for 10 of the Times’ posts, I’ve learned that getting things online as fast as possible is the way we are headed.

So, what does all this leave for goals in 2011?

  • For one, just because I’ve graduated and am out of school doesn’t mean I want to stop learning. There’s still a lot I need to master personally. I never got around to teaching myself more HTML and CSS coding, and I want to begin doing more of that.
  • I want to be a more regular Web presence, blogging more often and using social media more to make communicating with others more effective.
  • I have little to no experience with anything mobile, mostly because the phone I have is a Samsung Alias 2, aka a “dumbphone.” I’d like to invest in some sort of smart phone this year to help understand the world of mobile news.

With beginning at Heritage Newspapers shortly after the first of the year, I have a feeling my learning curve will change. I’m hoping 2011 has more great news to come.

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Written by David Veselenak

December 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm

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