Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Photo 101

I broke my own rule.
I do that sometimes.

I was at a school board meeting - very routine - without a camera. I know what you're thinking, "You don't need a camera at a meeting."

Well, generally, you're right. I'm going to have to refer to Perry White in "Superman III" when Jimmy Olsen misses the shots of Superman saving the day because he was getting a hot dog and didn't have his camera.
"A photographer eats with his camera. A photographer sleeps with his camera," the editor drones on.
"Glad I'm a writer," Lois Lane mutters.
Back to my point, you never know what's going to happen. I decided this about four years ago while covering a school board meeting in another district for another newspaper. It was a routine meeting that included a report from the middle school administrators. They were talking about this problem-solving activity day. To better demonstrate some of the activities the students would be doing, they had a couple board members volunteer. So we went from paying the bills to several board members on their knees building a balloon tower. And no photos from me - no camera.

Since then it's been my philosophy that reporters should take cameras with them everywhere - even if it's a routine meeting. You never know what's going to happen. Like at the last school board meeting when the junior high cheerleaders demonstrated their routines and showed off their trophies. It would have got a few more faces in the paper and demonstrated that we do cover more than just meeting motions.

Checkin' da e-mail, checkin' da e-mail...

Anybody get the Strongbad reference in the title? No? Never mind then.
It's been a while since I've blogged here.

I'm getting closer to my wit's end here. I keep getting reader-submitted content after deadline for time-sensitive events. I also keep getting things submitted that I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with, like a group photo with a date stamp covering some people in the photo. The group photo isn't anything significant either, it's from a club's regular meeting, nothing special.
At least the photo was e-mailed (which took several attempts over the course of two days).
I had a "story" pre-written about the club dropped off for me. Why wasn't this e-mailed? So, assuming I wanted to use the pre-written article they submitted word for word - or close - I'd have to sit down and retype it instead of giving it a quick edit and save. Oh, and it was all after deadline. Thanks for making the situation worse.

So this leads me to my first dilemma: at what point do we bend over backwards to squeeze in this club's activities yet again after deadline? They've purchased an ad, which some would argue puts more pressure to give them the free press. But this cynical journalist thinks, "Good, it'll be in the paper, people will know about it! Why be redundant?"

Next: in a small-town weekly newspaper that has to beg the community for submissions, where do we draw the line? Do I print a random group photo they want with an announcement about their club's activity (let's ignore it was after deadline and has a big ol' date stamp on it)? Are we compromising a standard of excellence or quality here? I mean, this is a small town, but I don't think it's podunk. Compounding this situation is the fact we've had an continually shrinking paper meanwhile wild art, vacation photos and other content is continually held as space becomes a premium.

More: how do I get people to understand e-mail? Often times the response I hear from people is, "I'll have my son/daughter e-mail it." This e-mail concept escapes so many people in this small town. I typically type things in, gracious they'd even send it to me. Meanwhile, some weeks I could save significant time by just a quick edit and save thanks to a document attached in e-mail.

I think that ends my rant for today. Ready for the cliche? I've got more questions than answers here.