Saturday, November 12, 2005

First Assignment - deer in the headlights look

I will always remember my first newspaper assignment. I was so excited with my new job. It was my birthday and getting the job was the best gift I had ever received. I was going to be the next Lois Lane – in my very own hometown. I was so ready.
What I was not ready for being asked to write about anything political. Heck, I was so proud of the fact that I always voted…every four years, that is.
What did I know about propositions and initiatives? I rarely bothered with all that. (That has changed and I am now totally aware of everything on the ballot)
Anyway, Enrique (my immediate supervisor and mentor) sent me to cover a speech about Proposition-54 at the local community college. I went – not really knowing what I was doing. Our paper photographer met me there. “Isn’t this cool?” he asked. Um…yea…cool. NOT!
I took notes -- lots and lots of them. I didn’t really know what to do. It was my first day on the job. I had been told it was going to be a day of in-service. Doesn’t that mean watching movies and filling out forms? I had absolutely ZERO idea what to do out there alone.
After the event, I sat in my car for half an hour (my lunch break) and talked to my best friend. I was scared to go back to work. I had no idea what to do with the information I had gathered, or worse, how to write it. He assured me that I would be fine. I wasn’t sure.
Enrique must have sensed it. “What’s the matter?” he asked me as I walked in. “You have that deer-in-the-headlights look.”
I just handed him my notebook -- page after page of scribbled notes. I stood there, quiet, waiting for him to call me an idiot. But he didn’t. He looked it over and being the professional that he was, found something in my notes, circled it -- and handed it back.
“This looks like a good place to start,” he said.
I took it from there. Of course, the story took me about three hours to write and rewrite. But when I left, I left with a smile. It did not matter to me that no one knew it was my birthday or that anyone even wished me a happy birthday.
All that mattered was that I had done it. I wrote a story.
The next day, I literally screamed when I saw it on the front page. Wow. I had really done it. I had written a story for an official newspaper – and if I had t say so myself, it looked damn good. I went out and bought like 15 newspapers. (No idea why). I decided that if I could make it through that first day – that first story, then I could do anything at the paper.

1 comment:

  1. "deer in the headlights look." We used to say

    "you look like a cow at a new gate." LOL