I write this every six months or so: I love making people see how they are important. It is the best part of any non-fiction writing job. When regular, work-a-day people see a story I’ve written about them and like it, I feel like I’ve accomplished something important about my job. I specialize in writing about the non-famous and the non-newsmakers. One of the last newspaper stories I wrote was about a local woman who was inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame.
I liked her right from the start. She liked her students (most of whom were kids) and worked hard during the interview to demonstrate the aspects of her job she thought were important. This is where stories can take a weird turn. As with the police, people often accuse reporters of getting it wrong or taking things out of context. They confuse us with public relations people. My job isn’t to tell people what you want them to know, my job is to figure out what’s important and relate that.
The story wasn’t spectacular (in fact I only posted it on my clips page because she wanted to share it with her friends). But I “got” her in a way she didn’t expect and she appreciated it. There is always the chance what people won’t like what I’ve done, but my main concern is to be true, or as close to it as I can get, without being too mean.
Run fat boy run
As it turned out one of the first times I was in the ocean this year was because a zombie was chasing me. I along with some friends and family participated in a zombie mud run in Wildwood, N.J. It’s something my brother Booby and my friend Keith and I have been planning for nearly five years. We were supposed to do it for my 40th birthday, but that came and went. So did Keith’s and Bobby’s. This year we just bit the bullet and did it.
It was fun. I ached for awhile, but fortunately there was plenty of beer to make me forget how much I hurt. On the downside, the beer also made it difficult for me to enjoy riding the boardwalk rides. Grownups should ride at least one ride per year, preferably a roller coaster.
By the end of September, (I think) I was offered the job as OceanCity.com editor. Now, with my newfound devotion to fun, I plan on riding all the rides in town for the purposes of reviewing and chronicling them. Call it a sneak preview for all of the people who have stuck with my self-indulgence this far, but I’m going to right an amusement ride column this summer. Stay tuned!
Speaking of the boardwalk
One of the last stories I did for the Laurel Star was about their downtown redevelopment plan, which included making a walkway along the river. I sincerely hope they’re successful at that because it would be wonderful. The story, which you can read here, was a lot of fun to write because I really was able to let myself go.
I was escorted along the route by a little old lady who turned out to be a former grand dame of the city. She pointed out properties she and her husband (a long-serving, now deceased mayor) had owned and things they had accomplished. Mostly, though, I got to see something for the first time while getting the inside scoop from someone seeing it for the thousandth time.
Among the more intriguing propositions was that people will soon be encouraged to kayak or canoe along Broad Creek to the river. It’s another adventure I likely will consider undertaking as the spring come on.
That’s a funny line to write as I prepare to review October, but that’s where this is going…