Week One Done

Week 1 of my six month internship at the Janesville-Gazette is in the books. So far, each day has already offered some valuable learning moments, such as…get as much info for captions as possible, keep a pair of dry socks in the car (always) and don’t count on GPS.

What I find most fascinating about the Janesville-Gazette is how respected and important the paper is to the community. On every assignment I was on, as soon as I mentioned I was from the Gazette, people just eased back and were really friendly. Most wanted their pictures taken and were willing to answer any questions I had. This isn’t to say my experience shooting in Madison was filled with unfriendliness, but the people in Janesville are just different.

First, the town is just one of those towns that goes at its own pace. Madison has so many different communities, all operating adjacent from each other and unaware of the other. Janesville seems to move all at once. And I think this is one of the big reasons the Janesville-Gazette continues to thrive when newspapers are supposed to be failing. Besides the high quality of the paper, the community buys into the idea that local news is important. Everywhere I go I see Gazette newsstands and mailboxes with the Gazette logo.

And people take the content of the paper very seriously. Already on numerous occasions mothers and fathers have called into the photo desk wondering why we only ran a photo of Janesville-Parker High and not Janesville-Craig  (they are cross-town rivals). While that may be a silly example, I think it highlights what a newspaper should be in a community — it should be the source of information, entertainment and collective voice of the community.

The staff at the Gazette reminds me of my former journalist brethren at the Badger Herald in that it’s a family environment where everyone gets along. Also there is a overall feeling of all working toward one goal and being in it together, no matter what. I can’t say enough about how kind the Gazette staff has been to me so far (which is pretty unusual for an intern in a newsroom — I was called the “slave” at my last internship…). Pretty much each person has personally come up to me and welcomed me aboard.

As far as photos go, I’m reasonably happy with what I’ve come up with this week, especially considering not all the assignments were home runs in terms of content.

This first photo is successful pretty much because of the “aww” factor. I was lucky enough to catch a sweet moment between a blind man, his guide dog and an adorable little girl. The man, Sam, was visiting a pre-school to show kids how to interact with animals as well as show them how important the dog was to his everyday life. Lots of the kids were petting the dog (named Hero), but when a few of them scattered, this little girl came up and hugged the dog, saying, “I love you, Hero. You’re the best doggie!” Sam was just as sweet and lifted lots of kids onto his lap and talked with them, answering all sorts of questions. Even though I was only there for about a half hour, it was probably my favorite assignment thus far.

This second photo is kind of meh, but I like it mostly because of how I got to it. I was sent out to “feature hunt”, which is something I’ve never really done before as an assignment. Looking for a “pretty” photo on deadline is harder than it sounds. The photo I shot before I got to this scene was horses eating dandelions — I know, boring. Also, I don’t like pictures of wildlife, so I was really hoping something better would come along. While driving toward Lake Geneva, something did. I saw a group of girls planting flowers and thought to myself, “Aha! Perfect Spring feature photo.” But alas, they were planting some pretty lame, pretty not colorful plants. However, when I turned around in frustration, I saw this guy about 20 yards away digging up tulips. Perfect. I probably could have done some better angles with this shot, but I think it works okay enough.

This assignment was to shoot a factory that makes concrete pre-cast molds. Yikes. Most boring assignment description ever. But, turned out to be probably the best picture I’ve taken all week. Amidst all the gray on top of gray on top of pale fluorescent yellow lighting in the factory, I found this guy welding. And if there is one thing always true about welding, it’s that it always makes for a great photo. The photo looked pretty great on the front page too. Here’s how it ran:

Now that I’m done with my first week at the Gazette it’s off to shoot the first wedding of the season tomorrow. I should have those photos up either tomorrow night or on Saturday since I have the day off, so check back soon!

2 thoughts on “Week One Done

  1. Nice stuff your first week. From everything I’ve heard, that’s a great internship. Here are some more tips for you that you can’t go wrong with…

    1. Always have two extra pens
    2. Spare notepads!
    3. I always wrote names and assignment information on the assignment sheet, which was nice to have since a lot of the basic info was already on the sheet. Not sure how Janesville does it though…
    4. Get to be friends with the page designers and always communicate with them when it’s an assignment pushing deadline since they may have to build a page before you have your photos.
    5. By reading your post, I think you get this, but this always motivated me on assignments that would seem mundane or boring. I always thought what it was like when the local newspaper guy came to our school or baseball game and in my town, it was a big deal. People got excited and looked forward to it. I always approached assignments this way because it might be one of six assignments you have in a day and you might want to get it done and over with, but to that person, your coming out to shoot them probably will be something they remember for the rest of their life. That motivated me to try and do the best job at every job, which should go without saying.
    6. And this is the most important… have fun and be happy you are working in a job where no day is the same in an industry where there are fewer and fewer of these jobs.

    Good luck and have fun!

    1. Thanks for the advice, Derek! That’s a really good point about how important being in the paper is for many people….I’ve never really thought about it that way.

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