CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

August 9, 2009

Journalism Rules and Professionalism: I had neither!

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

JOURNALISM RULES AND PROFESSIONALISM

I Had Neither!

      In searching for a certain picture, I came across my first press pass (http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/?saved=1 ).

     Over the years that I have been a freelance newspaper photojournalist, my editors had to put up with a lot from me. I was definitely not always “professional.”

     I was working at the newspaper until closing time, and the editor asked me (for the tenth time) if I could be back the first thing in the morning to complete our work.

     “Yes,” I said. “I’ll roll out of bed and into the office.”

     The next morning, I put my work clothes on, but didn’t wash my face or comb my hair. I grabbed my papers, my floor-length, maroon, fluffy bathrobe and my matching slippers. When I arrived at the newspaper, I parked in the back. I put on the robe and replaced my shoes with my slippers before entering the back door of the office.

     As I entered, I feigned yawning, as I said, “I told you I would just roll out of bed and into the office.”

     During the time I worked at one newspaper, I was needed to help my daughter with her newborn baby, Jordan. I would pack my briefcase, camera case, bottles and diapers when I took an article in to be edited (I sat with the editors while they worked on improving my writing). I would spread a blanket out on the floor (Jordan was not crawling yet) and work with the editor. Often, I would have to take a few minutes break to prepare her bottle, change her diaper, or quiet her down.

     I remember being asked by one editor to cover a wrestling banquet that I was attending. “No,” I said, turning and leaving. Tossing over my shoulder, “I know nothing about wrestling.” Then I did a turnabout. “Yes, I can,” I told the editor. “My husband is a wrestler, and he can edit it for me.” Monte did, and laughed at my mistakes while he corrected them. The article went in great.

     A mother should know her son’s name, right? Well…she may…but she may not always use it. I almost caused the newspaper lawsuit when I submitted the name of a five year old, given to me by his mother. She, however, was divorced from the child’s father, and told me his last name was the same as hers was. She had remarried. Never did I expect that a mother would lie about her son’s name. I erred, breaking the rule about asking the child to give me his name.

     But then, the editors I worked with didn’t follow the rules either. I found that together we “broke” some of the rules of journalism. Below are a couple of these “rules.”

REMAIN FREE OF ASSOCIATIONS AND ACTIVITIES THAT MAY COMPROMISE INTEGRITY OR DAMAGE CREDIBILITY.

AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, REAL OR PERCEIVED.

     Obviously, this implies that the journalist should not write about the organizations  with which they are involved. However, Jamestown (PA) is a small, rural town. When I arrived on the scene, the long-term freelancer for the Greenville Record Argus newspaper was ready to pass the job on, and I became the recipient. I also received a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund based on the premise that healing an adult of their childhood abuse would break the intergenerational chain of abuse. After receiving word of the grant I approached the newspaper’s and informed him that the new program needed a picture in the newspaper. Community residents needed to know about the new program. Logically, it should be the head of the program (me) photographed with the director of the county’s Children and Youth agency. I fully expected him to say (more…)

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March 24, 2009

Found: Flash Drive. What should I do?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITONS

FOUND: FLASH DRIVE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

     As my college friend Michael stood in my living room, preparing to leave following his first visit to my home after fifteen years, he pulled a blue flash drive from his pocket.
     “I found it in a parking lot,” he claimed about the electronic gadget that is so small it is easier to lose than to keep. Such a thing can slip out of a brief case, get misplaced in (more…)

November 22, 2008

THIS ARTICLE IS BEING SUBMITTED WHERE?

CAROLYN’S CREATIONS

THIS ARTICLE IS BEING SUBMITTED WHERE?

NOTE: You will notice that I am not mentioning the name of the publication to which I am submitting my article. Nor am I giving any identifying information. This information will be provided at a later date!

     Do not submit articles to major publications when you first begin writing, I warned Theresa.
     As a new, inexperienced writer, never having been published, Theresa wanted to break into the field. She had several pieces she’d written, which were not too bad. However, she showed her innocence in the field by planning on sending them to top notch publications, rather than smaller magazines with less stringent competition. She also did not feel that she had to adjust her writing to meet their guidelines. She expected that they would set their rules aside and, at the very least read her submissions, and that they would be so enamored with her writing that they would publish her work.
     All this jibberish aside, I have to ask the question of myself: Why am I submitting my work to the major publication that is “way over my head?”
     I have been working on a historical journal article, not only for a major publication, but for a high-level competition hosted by this journal. I, a person who studied in the medical and human service field, am entering the world of the historian—the historian at the level of a Harvard University Ph. D. This arrogance flies in the face of (more…)

June 5, 2008

THE LEGACY FROM MY EDITORS

The editor’s words stick in my memory.

“I don’t care (more…)

April 27, 2008

A KUDZU COVERED VEHICLE GRAVEYARD

Summer is vacation time. This item is a warning for Northerners visiting the southeastern states…

Among America’s many enemies, none is more disastrous than Pueraria Lobata, commonly known as KUDZU.

Residents of the southeastern United States, where it grows prolifically, must prepare for sporadic, unpredictable energy blackouts not caused by (more…)

March 22, 2008

SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD! The Easter Story as told by Mary

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SHALOM! MY LORD AND MY GOD!

The Easter Story as told by Mary

COME, GATHER ‘ROUND ME, YOUNG AND OLD:
THE EASTER STORY WILL BE TOLD!

     In long, long ago times, a special baby was born.
I’d love to share that birth story with you—the miracle of birth itself, the struggles, hopes and dreams of and for this special baby—but that is the Christmas story.
We are here today to hear the Easter story.
Not the story about

(more…)

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