Well, two weeks down and I must say I’m pretty thrilled about the diversity of work I get to do here in Idaho Falls. The copy desk is also the design desk, for the main sections anyway, and I’ve been thrown headlong into the daily deadline grind of turning out well designed and well edited pages. My first week’s work on The West, the B/regional section, culminates tomorrow with an early deadline and a lot less hand-holding. But I think I’ve caught up to the pica-specifics and headline styles:
So my first Sunday spread awaits, and boy am I glad to have glasses on my face and coffee at the ready, it’s time to move quickly (but accurately).
In other news I’m still freelancing for the Independent, as their album-reviewer-at-large, it seems. Any excuse to listen to new music I wouldn’t otherwise find, and this week I got lucky with the folk duo Tina and Her Pony and the down-the-middle indie pop group Generationals.
After at least 100 reviews in the weekly’s pages by now (or maybe almost 100) I feel my style has been refined and I can say what I mean without chunky language or misplaced metaphors. That said, I need to keep growing. While in Austin I had a short chat with Peter Mongillo, the American-Statesman’s music writer, and he said the challenge is to talk about music without talking about other bands. Which is sound advice — an easy review-killer is exclusionary or insider language. It’s sad but true: Not everyone knows who Weezer is. So I’ve tried following that advice myself, and while it opens up the crutch of labels and genres it’s also a chance to paint the picture an album does without hearing it yourself. Make sense? I’m working on it, stay tuned.
Finally, while east Idaho, and I.F. in particular, tend to lack the thriving youth culture that makes Missoula great, I’ve found breweries, an excellent greenbelt bike trail, a solid and nostalgia-inducing coffee shop and a natural foods store not far from my house. (What can I say, Missoula got to me.) Plus, a Pioneer League (minor-rookie) baseball team to cheer for when the Osprey aren’t in town whooping ’em. But don’t tell that to the sports desk.
Let me leave you with my foot in a sea kayak in the middle of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park:
I had posted this earlier but apparently the internet got hungry. Well, to reprise:
The DJNF workshop at the University of Texas was a huge success. I was lucky enough to be among the 11 intelligent and visionary interns now spread across the country. Our final three days were spent turning out the Southwest Journalist, a six-page broadsheet and online publication. It was serious workflow, from the budget meeting at 2:30 to the hands-in-the-air “good enough” at 11. I edited on the first night, designed the front page then wrapped up with a pretty great feature page:
Which was all good and necessary practice, because I did just that today at my first shift with the Idaho Falls Post Register. A wire page, edited, designed and rimmed all by myself (under the loose supervision of the copy desk proper). At this point, I’m feeling good, but I need to get faster. “Repetition,” they said. No problem.
A quick side note: Language immersion is a very real thing. After only ten days in Austin, a y’all managed to slip into my speech, in that I said “Are y’all following me on Twitter?” I miss that place, despite the ridiculous humidity. I met up with an old friend from Fargo, saw the hipster cowboys and attempted a two-step, saw the swarms of Sixth Street and vowed never to eat a taco this far north again. Plus, I met some amazing people I don’t plan to forget.
…Where I just received an emergency alert on my phone for a flash flood warning through 6:30 central tonight. I thought all this humidity would amount to something. Luckily I’m sitting with the rest of the UT Dow Jones interns on the third floor of the brand new Belo Center for New Media, so we should be safe. Today we’ve talked about communicating with writers effectively, how to spot and destroy passive voice (or when to leave it) and a few headlines have been hashed. First of many, I can only hope (what, it’s fun!).
Yesterday we toured the Austin American Statesman (that’s a link to their soon-to-be-paywalled site I much prefer over the busy normal page) and I got to sit down with some feature writers, including Omar Gallaga and Michael Barnes. Though cuts are apparent and the copy/design desks have been outsourced to Florida and Ohio, it’s good to see a strong style section in a town this active and diverse. I have a running story list in my head after just two days here…
Still turning out theses on tunes, even from my perch in the live music capital of the world. For those in Missoula, don’t miss Ariel Pink after Sasquatch weekend and I’m not pleased to have missed Surfer Blood last night. Oh well, maybe I’ll miss my flight and get to catch the Avett Brothers next Friday?
Follow the Texas team on Twitter from the hashtag #DJNF13.