What a month to enter the professional world of journalism.
Harvey, Irma, Mexico, Las Vegas, North Korea, California, Somalia, the list goes on.
What a month for humanity really.
It feels more and more like the world is falling apart. The ground is shaking below us, the skies are bearing down upon us, the temperature is rising, the country is burning, and if Mother Nature isn’t doing enough damage, there are plenty of humans doing their part to destroy the world — be it with guns, bombs or threats of nuclear warfare.
My job at the newspaper is to log onto the AP Newsroom and disseminate all this information. I have to read through the day’s stories and choose what to put in the paper for our Nation & World and Region pages. Sounds somewhat simple enough right? Read a few stories, pick the top ones and copy and paste them, along with a headline onto a page. The AP Newsroom will even tell you what the current top stories are.
There has not been a shortage of news since I started in mid-September, that’s never been my problem. Although that may sound like it could make my job easier, it really doesn’t. Some days I only have a page and a half, or two pages available and there are six pages worth of stories. How am I supposed to fit everything that’s going on around the Nation and across the world into a page and a half?
In a way it helps that the top stories around the world aren’t necessarily the top stories for Mohave Valley, but this is also something I’ve struggled with — deciding what’s important for our readers and what isn’t. What do they need to know, what do they want to know and how can I fit it all into the space I’ve been allocated?
For example, the Catalonia crisis has been huge worldwide news, but its significance doesn’t necessarily transfer to our readers. So I have to walk a fine line between choosing the content most-relevant and of interest and significance to our readers, while ensuring they’re also well informed of what’s going on, not just nationally, but internationally as well.
Having only moved to this area of the country a month or so ago, it’s been tricky. I don’t know these people or this place yet. It’s a different culture from Western Pennsylvania and even more so from New Zealand, but I’m definitely getting the hang of it. My editor has helped guide me in what is important to this region and my eyes now scan for a few key topics to prioritize — healthcare, Trump, immigration, taxes, national events.
I joked with my editor the other night that some days we should just name a whole page “Trump” rather than Nation & World. No matter what day of the week it is, I can regularly count on there being at least three stories each day about him — whether it’s something he’s said or more-likely tweeted, who he’s pissed off, what people have said to him, about him or in response to him — Trump is constantly in the news, making the news, blaming the news, and that makes my job difficult. Because we can’t just dedicate a whole page to Trump.
Trying to offer a balanced scope of coverage, while covering the top stories and choosing the ones that are most relevant to our readers, well, somedays it just makes my head spin.
While it’s hard sometimes when my job is to constantly read through and stay up-to date with the chaos going on in the world, it helps me to remember that in a way, the world has always felt like it was falling apart. As I read headlines such as “North Korea says nuclear war might break out at any moment,” it’s comforting to think that people around the world in the 1960’s were fearing almost the exact same thing — and they survived.
It’s been a full on first month at work, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end without a floatie. But I’m doing it. I’m learning as I go and I can feel the whole process getting easier with time.