Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Electricityscape

At 10 p.m. tonight when my Carrboro Board of Alderman story was being read for the Daily Tar Heel, my managing editor said "Classes were kind of a slap in the face" (or something like that, this admittedly might be a misquote.)

I said classes totally rejuvenated me. I had three classes today, and honestly couldn't be more looking forward to this semester. Today I had three journalism classes though, and I can't promise I'll be saying this tomorrow after Spanish.

I'm beginning a new class titled "Public Affairs Reporting for the New Media."

It's an alternative style class, and I'm not sure what's going in it to be perfectly honest, but it's going to be the subject of the majority of my blog updates for the next semester.

I'll be working with a few classmates to develop a new online editorial product for the small newspapers in Whiteville and Washington, N.C.

I'll specifically be looking at (Little) Washington. After Google Maps-ing it and realizing this town is about two blocks from the beach, I decided I made the right decision.

But to be serious, I couldn't be more excited about this. As my reporting professor told me this morning, local news is the bread and butter of newspapers. Local news is what makes these papers necessary and it's what makes them niche publications.

And after a year on the DTH City Desk, I love me some local news. Local politics, school board, business, whatever. I've become so absorbed in Chapel Hill. In just a year I feel like a citizen of Orange County so much more than I ever was in my 17 years as a citizen of Raleigh.

I've also realized the importance of being plugged in — and I mean really plugged in — to report comprehensively.

And while I don't think I'll be doing too much reporting or coverage directing in these unfamiliar towns, it'll be a challenge to get the sense of Washington and what kind of news they need without spending a decent amount time there, developing strong source relationships and getting knee-deep in stories.

But I'll be tracking that journey here. Every step of learning about these towns that I literally know nothing about besides their proximity to ocean and designing their news resources. It'll likely be a lot of trial and failure. But I'm excited for the trying.

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