About two months ago, I started freelancing for the South Lake Daily Tablet. It’s a digital community paper covering a portion of the Florida county in which I live. Once I would have shied away from newspaper reporting; now I recommend that every writer try it at least once. You’ll be amazed at what you learn. At two years old, the South Lake Daily Tablet feels like a start-up gaining traction. Its online-only presence gives it great nimbleness and lower expenses. Right now it’s slowly growing its staff, which means that most reporters cover a little of everything. Weekly staff meetings with Michael and Patricia Corradino keep us on track. They’re the owners and publishers of the paper; as with any start-up, they work twelve hours and more a day. Honestly, some days they seem to show up everywhere. I have fifteen years of professional writing and editing experience, most of it spent online covering various technology-related topics. Michael Corradino’s background is specifically in news and journalism. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I expect to learn more. Let me tell you just some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed working outside of my normal niche. First, I’ve met lots of people. Just this last week I met librarians, retired and future fire fighters, a congressman, an interim police chief, a council woman, several business owners, and more. That’s a diverse group of people sure to spark one’s writing. If you want to write well, you can’t spend all of your time staring at your computer screen and drumming on your keyboard. Yes, you must write, but meeting and talking to people will give you something to write ABOUT. Second, I’ve been learning new skills. As a freelance reporter, I can’t just write a story; my publisher expects pictures as part of the package. When a photographer isn’t available, guess who gets to take the pictures? I’m grateful for digital photography; it allows me to take lots of pictures and hope that some of them come out usable. Slowly, I’ve been improving, and expect to learn more. I’ve also been learning AP style. Newspapers commonly use it, preferring it...Read More
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