Winning, Etc.

First off, big ups to Native News 2013 for bringing home the gold at the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards. I was thrilled to see some reporters and photographers — including Sam Wilson, who was my partner on our now-award-winning story — make some waves as well.  Oh, and the Kaimin had a good showing too, unsurprisingly.

Next up, let’s sit down and have a chat about marijuana, young man. As my reporting will show, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to sell.

But don’t think I’m getting lazy. I took a ride in a Tesla, (do not let your driver put it in sport and floor it if you liked your lunch); hopped on a controversial septic company story; and didn’t let the landslide bring me down.

Also, in case I don’t update every every week, click on Read, see it up there? OK, after clicking on Read you’ll see a new link to my current archives. Bookmark away, friends and strangers.

I’ll leave you with the view of the Columbia from my porch:

Oh Columbia

Whirlwind week

Or, week and a half.

I’ve been everywhere, it seems, meeting just about everyone I’ll need to know and seeing everything I need to see to cover Longview, Lower Columbia College and Wahkiakum County. I’ve got the stories to prove it, too.

My first cover story also became my first owned issue, and I even claim credit for the headline:

FirstA1 It’s always nice to see a packed Parks and Rec meeting following a real ball-breaking issue like this.

And don’t miss my favorite lead I’ve written so far: “Jesus came to town in a gray Honda Civic with Oregon plates.”

But I’m still a music man, too, so I got to write up the review for Missoula’s psych-pop “scuzz rock” quartet Skin Flowers.

And don’t miss photographer and close friend Tim Goessman’s 2011-2013 Missoula DIY reflections. He unveiled the little-before-seen archive of photos from the scene we were both very invested in, and the results are a good look at what makes it tick. Even got a shoutout on the Indy’s arts blog.

Off to a City Council meeting; is my tie on straight?

Onward!

It’s been a busy few months to start off the year, and there is certainly no slowing now: I’ve accepted a position at The Daily News in Longview, Wash. The twist: I’ve been uprooted from the copy desk and back into reporting. So you can expect a bit more reading material from my oft-vacant blog, including the first story I wrote on my tryout day in Longview almost two weeks ago:

Photo by John Markon / Naomirose and Chad Mauro of Vader wait at St. John's Hospital with their 4-month-old son Ethan, who was born with only one kidney and without a bladder. Eight local tattoo shops will be conducting fundraisers for the child next week.
Photo by John Markon / Naomirose and Chad Mauro of Vader wait at St. John’s Hospital with their 4-month-old son Ethan, who was born with only one kidney and without a bladder. Eight local tattoo shops will be conducting fundraisers for the child next week.

Excited to be back on the frontlines of Truth, a student of American culture, and deep in the Northwest. Off to being well and doing good work.

Sound Start to the Year

This week I was asked to churn out a quick review of Lavoy, the Spokane-via-Alaska synth pop group in Missoula tonight, and a complete reversal of that description in my general praise of British producer Burial. While the former had better criticism (at times I just wanted to help the band more than the reader), I had good fun in a few lines in the latter. Go forth and read Brooks!

On the Headwall front, Facebook has a new algorithm, and I think it targets scheduled posts, especially those with links. In other words, Facebook wants money for exposure. So if you’ve been missing my clever posts, blame Mr. Zuckerberg. I’ll be decoding the way into your feed all month. Or year, if I must.

Oh, and the newest issue is available online, in addition to an e-edition I’ve linked to in the cover below. Cheers.

5.4 Headwall template - final-real_Layout 1

Sharing Secrets

That may seem a bit misleading in the year of Edward Snowden et al. But I quite literally would like to share with you Secrets — the 2013 winter edition of Montana Journalism Review. My story (and graphic) can be found on Page 59 (61 if going by Issuu’s navigation). I looked into a topic I’ve long been drawn to, anonymous campaign spending, and how it might play out for the 2014 race to replace Sen. Max Baucus (which just got a bit more interesting).

Of course, may I also recommend heading straight to mjr.jour.umt.edu to sign up to receive a free copy in the post.

For those in western Montana, the new issue of Headwall has cometh, so pick up your favorite outdoors quarterly for free wherever fine things are found, or stop by the site. And definitely follow @MontanaHeadwall. Let me know how my tweets are doing.

Cheers, happy New Year.

’13 going on ’14

The year is quickly coming to an end, and I’ve been hard at work as ever. Not much news to report, but plenty to be proud of. After working A1 on Thanksgiving, I stopped while I was walking past a box today and just smiled at the cover. Not my greatest design, though a pretty good headline.

TurkeyA1

Happy Thanksgiving.

Staying Sharp

As my fellow “ink-stained wretch” (his words) uncle Steve reminded me, I need to write. OK, everyone has reminded me of such. And I am writing, though much of it is just essays-in-progress and a blog post here and there at Medium. But I saw an opportunity to get my byline in the Post Register instead of just scanning others’ for spelling errors. Because we have a paywall and our soon-to-be-redesigned website is admitted by all to be pretty ugly, I’ve posted the PDF of the page it fell on. Strange spot for a local story but look ma, boxed and everything:

A8Oct11

Back in Montana, virtually, I’ve exhausted the current issue’s articles for social shoutouts, and can’t seem to get readers to submit their stories (yet), so I showed them how it’s done with a lesson in getting into a kayak.

Also in Montana, physically, I’ve submitted a “Looking Ahead” story for Montana Journalism Review. The theme of this year’s issue is secrets, so all I can say about the story is xxxxxxxxx.

As I’ve been doing a lot of sports designing lately, I don’t have awesome A1s to share. Though the headline “Lumberjacks stump Montana” will long be a favorite, as will this high school football cheerleader:

B01 100513 Sat SpoSo much swag. Until next time~

An Absence, An Acceptance

My how time passes when you’re getting married. That’s right, on Sept. 7, 2013, I signed up for a lifetime of happiness. But let’s not focus on the details, this is a professional blog, right?

I had a bit of time off for the fantastic fete, which I had built in to the end of my time here in Idaho Falls. Turns out, it’s not going to end: I’ve been hired on as the newest member of the copy desk at the Post Register. They liked my Midwestern work ethic, of course, and my steady improvements in pagination. Plus, an opening appeared at just the right time. So stay tuned for even more swell designs as well as my renewed drive to get a few bylines a month, wherever they will fit. I’m lucky to be in a newsroom when every other day massive cuts are announced across the media. So I’m going to take every opportunity I can for as long as I can.

Though I’m a bit across the border, I’ll still be the online editor for Montana Headwall, conjuring social media posts and properly aligning new content (and occasionally creating it). I’ve been reading up on social media strategy, but still find some luck involved for maximum exposure. If anyone has an accurate algorithm, I’d love to see it. Or perhaps I’m in the process of making it?

Like Headwall on Facebook, follow me @readbrooks on Twitter and watch for some upcoming words to help you read Brooks.

Fires and Smoke

It’s been a few Augusts since I was able to breathe deeply outside — though the air is clear in Idaho Falls, back in Missoula the Lolo Creek Complex has shut down part of Highway 12 and smothered the city in smoke. In central Idaho, the Beaver Creek Fire has also gained national attention for its size (bigger than the city of Portland) and unpredictability. Which all means it’s a very exciting time to be a journalist. Even sitting at the copy desk, I scan county twitter feeds, police scanners and inciweb.org with this untouchable thrill. Because I know I should be out there. My job isn’t done until you can’t wash that campfire smell from me.

The real point of this post was to share my story (essay really) from the 2013 Fresh Facts, a funny piece on activism in Missoula. Online it’s only available as an e-edition, so head on up to page 28 or, in the case you live in Missoula, pick one up off a stand near you.

I’m going to design out the second story I wrote into a graphic, so look for that soon.

Be well and do good work. I’ll see you out there

Deadlines Forever

Talking about a local story at the paper today one of my co-copy editors wondered what jobs without deadlines are like. I can’t say I know; even seven years at coffee shops imposed an arbitrary deadline on beverage production. I simply don’t know any other operating environment. There is always a goal, a stop time and a reset. So the onus is on increasing speed with a direct relationship to quality. It’s like when I finally mastered the latte-flower-pour but still turned out that steamed milk and espresso faster and tastier than anyone else. (Hold on, there’s more than madness to the metaphor.) Copy editing and especially design are the same way: Get better while getting faster. Tonight’s A-section came in an hour early and it’s the damn best cover I’ve put out yet. While I’m still struggling with color coordination, I’ve got typeface, sizing, white space and dominance down easy.

Here are my three best covers of August, in order from the earliest. I really do feel a daily improvement and a desire to experiment more and more. Is it working?

Thursday, August 1, 2013
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Friday, August 16
Friday, August 16
Wednesday, August 21
Wednesday, August 21

Expect links to my Fresh Facts stories on Missoula fashion and activism soon, followed by some outdoors writing. Hey, maybe some videos when I finally upgrade my camera, eh? Thanks for stopping by, tell your friends.