Although I was a reporter for nearly a decade in the region, mostly I covered Berlin and Snow Hill. I stayed outside of Ocean City because it wasn’t my beat. Also, as I mentioned before, the challenge for me was writing about the harder to get to stuff. I spent October kind of finding my feet, but by November I was out and exploring, getting to know Ocean City.
The first story I published in November was the last story I wrote in October: Wine Fest. The wine festival was something I’d attended a couple of times, but didn’t get as good a picture of as I did by covering rather than attending it. The number of people who come from out of town expressly for the event is mind-boggling. I actually spoke to about four sets of couples who told me they came once just by chance and then started coming every year. It’s kind of amazing that the event has that much draw.
It isn’t difficult to see why though. The weather was kind as was the sun, even though the event had been rained out the previous weekend. Or, maybe, especially because of that fact people found their way to the beach. There was dancing and drinking and general good natured carrying on. I got lots of great photos and great interviews.
Among the best interview, though was the one I did with Bill and Sherri Cook. I struck up a conversation with the couple as I waited around Buxy’s to take some photos. The most important thing I’ve learned as a reporter is to make conversation and see what happens. I didn’t approach the Cooks as potential subjects of my Ocean City Stories feature, but after talking with them it was clear that they were the kind of folks that were in my profile wheelhouse.
To be honest, I’ve always liked talking to people and hearing their stories. I also like to tell them my stories. Although it might sound like a tactic, it really isn’t: I sometimes overshare and then so do my interlocutors. I like to be real in my conversations. It isn’t an act, but I’ve found that authenticity on my part usually gets me the same. I want people to look good in my stories (unless I want them to look bad) and to get at the “real” them, it is important they trust and speak with me.
Busy, busy, busy
I also started my business stories in November writing about the work they’re doing at Plak That a business that makes photos into art. They have an enormous printer that prints on wood planks, or vinyl or aluminum. Pretty much any flat suffice will suffice for them. The way the company came into being is pretty interesting, but more interesting is the way it has grown.
The guy who run it just do a good job and are responsive to what the people want. I enjoyed writing the story because, as with the personal profile features, it give me a bit of insight into why people do what they do. In the case of the Plak That guys, it’s simply that they already were pretty good at what they were doing and took the opportunity to expand upon it.
By the time I got to December, I’d kind of found my niche here at OceanCity.com…