DAY 1. Good…
Editor Jeni has given me some stories to work through – no rush, just work through them at my own pace. She is very busy as deadline looms – a bit stressed but still open to communication. Apologetic, even, that she hasn’t been more ‘there’ for me.
I’m at the desk of the full-time journo Bianca (on holiday) next to the p/t journo Kirsty – who is super, super helpful and encouraging and gives me one of her stories to read for some ideas on a ‘sports story’ to be done by someone with no real interest in sport.
I’m listening to Kirsty doing the phone interviews…headset on and nimble fingers fluttering and flying over the keyboard. I’m really impressed.
It takes me a while to work myself up to the 1st phone interview. This is a small quiet office and EVERYONE CAN HEAR.
Do they ever go out to interview?
No. No, they don’t.
Well…sometimes…maybe for a feature. The phone is quicker.
Guess I won’t be using my recorder.
I only get 2 things finished but get a number of other things underway. Make calls. Send emails. Look for info. And chat.
Chatting is important. You have to find out about the people you work with. The local area (which they know all about because they live there). How things run. What’s happening.
What IS happening?
Wonderful Wynnum Herald is moving to Mount Gravatt, to be housed in the same premises as 2 other Quest publications. Southern Star and South-East Advertiser.
Everyone is sad (though they are trying to take the ‘glass half full’ attitude) and I am sad too.
They seem like a great team and clearly fit together. Ian (sport’s writer), sitting quietly behind me, looks like he’s seen it all. He won’t be making the move to the new office (or should I say, newsroom?) in Mt Gravatt. He’s retiring.
Originally from NZ, Ian spent a long time in Sth Africa, got used to the heat and couldn’t settle back in chilly NZ so came to Aus. He plans to write a book – about sport – in his retirement.
I go for a walk at lunchtime so I can see the Esplanade. It is lovely and quiet, though according to Nicola it is very busy – “can’t move” on weekends.
Today, like yesterday, Nicola – the receptionist (job description for someone who does a whole lot more) is still packing up the office when I leave. I imagine she has a bit of a cry after I am gone.
I have a meat pie for breakfast. From Perrett’s Pies. Very nice! An icy wind is blowing in from the sea and Wynnum is a long hike from Kenmore. I’m starving!
Getting over my discomfort with the phone interview. Have moved from scribbling notes longhand to typing into a doc with pepared questions.
Jeni tells me she has more time for me now – this week’s edition is out. She can hear me on the phone and says I’m doing fine. She says don’t be afraid to get people to repeat things. And double check by reading back to them.
She shows me a photo that was taken to go with a story I am doing. She is concerned about putting it in the paper. How will readers react. Oh dear! I’d be concerned too.
It’s for a pole-gym class but it looks more like an ad for a pole-dancing club.
Another Quest photographer, in Wynnum to take photos, calls in and Jeni asks if he has seen the pole-gym photo. He says something about his “eyes watering”.
I want to finish off everything Jeni has given me to do. She says don’t worry but… I know Fri will be shorter because the office is being packed off. And last days are times for more chatting.
Feeling comfortable with the phone-interview now. I have had trouble getting onto a few people. One interviewee seems to have been uncertain about almost everything she was telling me…now that I read it and tried to construct a story. I think I’d better call her again.
One new business owner wants to have the copy read to her and Jenny says ok – though she normally wouldn’t do it. She is being extra obliging because of the move. There has been no announcement to the locals. But the word is spreading and people are not happy.
Sneaking out of town kind of thing.
As Jeni edits the pieces I have emailed to her, she shows/tells me what she has done. Mostly style things.
Jeni came to Wynnum Herald only a few weeks ago, not knowing about the impending move. She is concerned about how this move might influence local perception of Wynnum Herald and says she will have to make sure to be a ‘presence’ in the community after the move.
Wynnum is very like a town. A bit down-at-heel, a bit in disrepair, shops not doing too well. But close to the sea and lovely in many ways.
I had not one, but two pies from Perrett’s Pies for lunch today. They really are very nice pies. I didn’t have dinner last night. Too tired to buy food or to cook.
I take home a stack of Wynnum Herald’s in case Oliver, whose name appears in this edition, wants them. Or his mum, maybe. To give out to the rellies.
It’s Friday. Has the week really come to an end?
I ask Jeni if I can do a story on a teacher who is retiring from Wynnum Primary. I had taken the call about it earlier in the week but it was put aside.
She has been teaching in Wynnum since 1971 and is very easy to interview.
We have pizza for lunch. A former editor – Margie – joins us. Kirsty can’t make it. I think one of her kids is sick.
Her younger child, 8-year-old Matthew, came in on Monday after school and sat under her desk eating potato chips. She hopes she gets the flexibility in Mt Gravatt that she has had here in Wynnum.
Jeni says she probably won’t run my stories for a couple of weeks because she has enough for next edition.
I have seen the plan of the paper (can’t remember what they call the pages layout). It is, essentially, a lot of ads into which copy is inserted to fill in spaces. Jeni said she had to slash columns. She talks in ‘centimetres’ rather than ‘words’.
When I say goodbye, Jeni thanks me for my help. My help? I’m thrilled that I was actually able to help. She has given me a lovely reference to take back to J School.
Ian has already left, quietly. Verity and Alison (ad-sales) have gone. Nicola is still packing up.