Monthly Archives: June 2013

Recent adventures

Well, it seems that Washington state is actually getting the message that it’s summer. Kind of. Last Saturday, the second official day of summer, I attended Meeker Days in Puyallup to capture the sights and sounds for Patch readers. Not only were my ears practically blown out by the Battle of the Bands contest, I returned home quite sunburnt. This was completely my mistake – I always get cocky and think I’m not going to get sunburnt. So wrong. The sun was out all day, and temperatures were in at least the high 70s. Plus I parked my car what must have been 2 miles away from the festival itself, so that was a lot of extra walking in the heat. I did get good footage, and I used the Patch iPhone app to post stuff as I saw it. That’s something I’m working on: producing content at a faster pace, which means you can’t spend a ton of time editing. In a print newspaper, you have more time to gather content, take notes, and write the stories, then the editors place them on the pages and the copy editors look it over. Not so at Patch. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I think it’s fun. Meeker Days provided a great chance to grow at those skills.

I saw some other interesting things down in Puyallup. For one, they have volcano evacuation route signs along the streets and a siren to alert citizens of an eruption. If Mount Rainier were to erupt, Puyallup would be in the path of the lava/landslides. Scary thought. I usually don’t think of seeing sirens in Washington like I see tornado sirens in the Midwest. Also, when I was making that long trek back to my car, I saw a very old dog wandering up the street. From afar, I thought it was a raccoon. Clearly it was very old and probably sick. I hope it didn’t get hit by a car or wander too far from home… and that its owners figured out it was gone. On that same street, I saw a dead dog as well. It smelled awful, especially in the heat. Roadkill happens everywhere, I guess. But enough of that random stuff. My trip to Meeker Days was really all about men in high heels, teenage rock stars, and girls in pink dresses. I’m beginning to like that town very much after doing three stories there.

I took Sunday and Monday off before picking up again yesterday, when I made my first trip to Gig Harbor. I hadn’t been across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in years and had forgotten how beautiful it was over there. The LE for GH, Brent, says the city is like the Mercer Island of Pierce County. Unfortunately, you have to pay a toll to get back over the bridge to Tacoma. So I guess I’ll deal with that. I wrote the police blotter there and visited a neat little treasure gallery shop to do a story on it. The owners, a husband-wife team, talked my ear off about all the treasures they’ve got. They asked me what I consider to be treasure, and I talked with them about my love of music and the written word. So the husband said that if he ever got some old string instruments, he might invite me down to demonstrate. Isn’t it great to make connections like this?

After that I headed over to University Place to get work done. While I wrote and edited video in a coffee shop there, the weather raged outside. Washington was getting a set of rare thunderstorms! Knowing it would screw up the already bad traffic, I waited it out until the shop closed at 8:00. I missed the worst traffic, but not the intermittent squalls along Interstate 5. The Minnesota-like rain made the highway quite an adventure, and I passed a couple accidents along the way. It continued to rain through the night, and I hit more of these squalls today. It’s why it never fully seems like summer in Seattle… the rain never disappears.

Today I spent the first half of the day in Renton, the closest Patch location to my house. (If only there were a bridge from the south end of MI to Renton… it would make life so much easier.) I went to the fire station and filmed a demonstration of some illegal explosives, showing what not to do on the Fourth of July. This was purely designed for members of the media, so I was there among cameramen from KIRO 7, KOMO 4, and Q13 FOX. A little intimidating as I stood there with just my iPhone. I had to switch to my digital camera partway through because I ran out of hard disk space again. Also, the loud explosions set off nearby car alarms. I don’t think mine went off. But I was always so startled by the explosions that I flinched violently at them, and that messed with my video. (Yes, I know I need a tripod.) I think it turned out all right. Later, I went to a vintage furniture shop that opened just about a month ago. The owner was busy so I have to go back tomorrow and talk with him. Then I’ll have a meeting via Google Hangouts with the other South editors, followed by an evening spent in University Place again. I have a lot more stories to do this week – the news is definitely not slowing down. Those who don’t report the news, are the news.

Cheers,

Brita

22 Reasons Minnesotans Are Having A Better Summer Than You

Well, looks like I’m moving to the Twin Cities after graduation. Was leaning towards it, and now I can’t wait. Plus the suburbs have Patch. So there’s job opportunities. 😀

Thought Catalog

1. Outdoor Culture

Minnesotans love to be outside and there’s no shortage of things to do. With over 11,000 lakes Minnesota has more shoreline than California, Hawaii and Florida combined. That’s a lot of boating, fishing and lying on the beach.

2. Minnesota State Fair

Close your eyes and imagine the most delicious food you can think of. Fry it and put it on a stick and you can buy it at the state fair. Chocolate bars, Caprese salad, ostrich, and beer are all served a la stick. There’s also bacon ice cream. One of the biggest state fairs in the nation, you can do everything here from watching animals get born in the “birthing barn,” see big name concerts, or view a butter statue of this year’s Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

3. Pride

Minnesota has one of the largest pride celebrations in the world. Having legalized gay…

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I met another famous athlete! And some baby seals!

As the title of this blog post suggests, my job has some perks. Reporting on community news means learning what’s important to each community. In Enumclaw’s case, one of the most important people ever to come from there is Kasey Kahne, a NASCAR driver. He lives in North Carolina now, but he still has fond memories of his home. I got to meet him, just a week and a half after I met Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate on my flight home from Nashville. Like Tate, he’s a real sweetheart. He’s great with kids, and it’s no wonder he’s a fan favorite. It was a bright spot of my day, along with meeting two baby harbor pup seals at the Point Defiance Zoo and taking video. They were born earlier this month and are SO CUTE! So that was what I accomplished today. This was after a visit to the Puyallup Fish Hatchery yesterday, which is a building basically unchanged since the 1940s and home to gorgeous (and delicious) rainbow trout. 

Unfortunately, though, I didn’t get this far without some struggle. For one thing, neither Point Defiance nor Enumclaw is exactly close to my home on Mercer Island… nor are they close to each other. The zoo is in the middle of a huge park property, and it took me awhile to find the gate for media entrance. I was ten minutes late and had to call someone to let me in. After filming for awhile, my phone’s hard drive ran out of space, so I couldn’t take any more photos or video, or edit the video on the iMovie app. I had my computer with me, fortunately. That was just frustrating, and I have to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future. Means deleting a few songs.

After I left the zoo, I spent a couple hours at a Starbucks along Pearl Street editing video, then I set off for another coffee shop in University Place to meet one of the LE’s. I thought it wouldn’t take me very long to get between these two places, but I was very wrong. Everyone must have had places to go today, because everywhere I went, traffic was horrible. I hit all the red lights, too. As a person highly concerned with punctuality, that frustrated me a great deal. The same thing happened on the way from U Place to Enumclaw, which is only about 25 miles geographically but took me an hour and fifteen minutes to get to. In the rain, I might add. (So much for summer.) But I got to see some parts of the state which I really haven’t before. I drove back home on Highway 169 through Maple Valley. It was calm and pretty! I’m ready to take a day off from driving, though.

Traffic wasn’t the only obstacle I had today. Along with the aforementioned lack of hard drive space, the Patch site was being temperamental with what I was able to upload. Turns out I need to put videos in MPEG-4 format for the site to take them… not AVI. The LE I met with helped me with some editing techniques, and we had a good talk about where we think journalism is going. That was another high point of my day, after we had a staff meeting yesterday as well, at which we threw out ideas for new cities in which we could launch Patch sites. It made me think about my own identity as a journalist (which I’ve been pondering since I got started here, really).

By the time I was in Enumclaw, I was already so tired that there were several times I forgot to hit “record” on my phone when I meant to be filming something. As it is 11:32 pm right now, I’m still very tired. But I haven’t blogged in several days, and my job has picked up steam. Friday will be more restful – all I have to do is edit some video, and then I can try to catch up on some other parts of my life that have fallen to the wayside over the last three days. Saturday I’ll be at Meeker Days in Puyallup, and then Sunday I’ll play catch up again. While life seemed to be fighting me today, I made it through and still produced decent content. I’ll be a better person for it – it takes guts to brave Tacoma traffic. Believe me.

Good night!

Brita

First story! Woo!

I have finally posted on a Patch site! It’s the Puyallup one, a story on the problems resulting from a major buildup of silt in Clarks Creek, which diverts storm water and waste water to the Puyallup River. The problem is a lot worse than many citizens want to acknowledge (or city government for that matter), and I feel like I can make a difference by giving this story the attention it deserves. I spent a couple hours in Puyallup last night (long drive, lots of traffic, but totally worth it) talking with four citizens who care about this issue, including one guy who is running for City Council this November. They are wonderful people, very kind as well as passionate. I’m sure I’ll see them again before too long. We walked along the creek and observed the contamination that has occurred in the retention ponds, which is harmful to all life around it. By the end of the night, I was pretty emotional about the issue, even though I live pretty far from Puyallup. In the morning, I got up and began work on the story, which I just finished at posted this evening!

Also yesterday, I went to Tacoma and met with one of the associate regional editors (ARE) and several local editors. We talked about story ideas for the summer, which all sounded fun to me. I’m hoping to be pitching some stories of my own, but since I’m not going to be writing about happenings in my own area (Mercer Island), that might be hard. So the others will be giving me some assignments as well. I still don’t know quite how everything works, but my first story was a success, according to the editors, so I think I’ll be all right. The stories are what’s most important – the technical things shouldn’t get in the way of good content.

As for the rest of life, I didn’t do much else today besides working on this story. I worked out at the gym and had a drink and onion rings with one of my oldest friends at the Roanoke on the North end of the Island. And of course watching Friends and Big Bang Theory. I really do need to play my cello more… If you’re reading this, please remind me to do so! Otherwise I’ll just sit here tweeting away for the rest of my life…

Cheers,

Brita

Home again and ready to roll!

I have arrived home in Seattle after an inspiring week in Bowling Green! My other posts detail everything that I learned. Now it’s time to put it into action with Patch! I meet with my Regional Editor and Local Editors tomorrow to set up my responsibilities for the summer. I’m very excited to start doing the work I’ve been imagining for three months!

Something I haven’t talked about yet from the workshop which I definitely want to remember is the whole idea of networking and connections. Rich Holden, the director of the Dow Jones News Fund, spoke to us interns at dinner on Saturday night, and he told us to keep in touch with each other and everyone we’ve met through DJNF – it will help us get jobs. He talked about the Online News Association and scholarship opportunities. One of them is for news editing, so I will definitely look into it. Knowing what lies ahead after graduation next spring, I was glad to hear that this group can help out. It’s existed for much longer than Patch has. The skills the faculty taught us this week can apply to so many different avenues of journalism, including Patch, and it was mostly new to me. I feel like I’m still a stickler for the print, though – I LOVE InDesign, and putting pages together is fun. That’s for this fall. Meanwhile, time to write!

Enough with the nerdy stuff. I’m going to go play my cello, which I haven’t in over a week, because I have rehearsal tonight with the Bellevue Youth Symphony for the Fourth of July fireworks concert. I played with this group from seventh grade up through the end of high school, and it provided me with a strong sense of musical direction which I have maintained up to today. I’m also going to call one of my friends from Decorah whom I haven’t talked to in a long time. Maybe writing some postcards and reading about Mary, Queen of Scots. I’m still so tired from the week – I definitely did not sleep enough, especially on the last night. I slept from 5:30 pm yesterday until 6:30 this morning, so you could say my body is a little screwed up. I wouldn’t mind going back to sleep now… but I need to get to work. Until next time, here’s hoping for a great first week at Greater Seattle Patch.

The week rolls on…

We only have two full days left here in Bowling Green. For many of us, that is a relief. I suppose that includes me, in many ways. We’ve been going hard since Sunday afternoon, learning about all kinds of software programs that journalists use today, as well as how Patch itself works, making the most of Twitter, video skills, and how to write powerfully. Trying to figure out all these Adobe programs I never used as a section editor has been a challenge for all of us. Besides that, we’ve had complications with our company-issued computers (yes, they just gave us fresh MacBook Pros) and getting behind the firewall so we can get paid. So it’s been a rush of information, to say the least. The other part of the workshop has been going out in teams and doing research on a topic that affects the Bowling Green area, as I probably mentioned before, and creating a website. I was concerned that this would be difficult, but working with three other trained reporters has made it less so. One of the girls has jumped on the website creating part, and I’m glad, because if I were doing it, I would be struggling, and I always feel self-conscious when I struggle with things, even when I’ve just learned it. My job has been doing data analysis of Bowling Green’s tornado history. I created a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel of the tornadoes off of a couple websites, made a Map Mashup on BatchGeo and Google, and used the Tableau software to create a scatterplot. These were new things to me. I also did a short writeup based on my analysis of the data. Tomorrow we hope to be completely done with everything by the afternoon so we can enjoy our evening, then present on Saturday. I know that I’ll be out getting reactions from locals to the outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma and how they are preparing in case one hits here, while learning how to use the Vine app at the same time. We’ll post the video on the site, as well as another one of an interview Ali and Carly did with a WKU meteorology professor. 

Our exciting adventure today was going over to the WBKO news station in town and meeting with one of the meteorologists there. He had the same accent as pretty much everyone else in this town – it’s what Southerners are pictured as sounding like. But he also told us some great things, and we’ll put the interview on our site as an audio file. After we interviewed him, we went to Starbucks – yum! 

Doing all of this research has made me (kind of) want to experience a tornado. If I saw one of those moving towards me, I wouldn’t want to go down to a shelter, I’d want to stay and film it. I know that’s not safe. However, if a tornado happened to show up in Seattle, I probably wouldn’t be the only one inclined to whip out my phone instead of running for shelter. We don’t even have tornado shelters out there. Decorah is much more prepared, although there aren’t many tornadoes there either. About four years ago, my then-boyfriend texted me one day saying there was a tornado warning – I freaked out! But there was no problem. Still, I hope faintly that I’ll see one before I graduate…

This has been a great week for me in a lot of ways. Being with a group of people whom I didn’t know from before has encouraged me to break out of my shell and be adventurous. I am very different from the other interns, it seems, as I go to the smallest school of anyone and am the only one from the Northwest. But different isn’t bad. It makes me proud to be from Seattle and to be a Luther student. All these East Coasters don’t know what they’re missing. 😉

Whew, I’m out of breath from writing all this. Going to chill for the rest of the night. See you on the flip side!

Brita

Hello from Kentucky!

Hi Internet!

I’m a little late getting on the blog train. I’ve been meaning to for a long time, but I thought I had nothing to write about. Then I realized that wasn’t true. At least, not now. I am just beginning my summer internship with Patch.com, an online news website with pages all around the country, focusing on local community trends and events. I’m in Bowling Green, KY for the opening workshop, meeting all of the other interns and learning how Patch works! In a week I’ll head back home to Mercer Island and do the rest of my work there and surrounding areas. I honestly have no idea how this all will turn out, but it seems like it will be a blast – there’s a reason why I applied for it, after all.

Today I traveled for awhile and arrived in Bowling Green around 4 pm. We didn’t have to be anywhere for awhile, so three other girls and I wandered around town and ate Wendy’s. (Which I hadn’t been to in a long time. So sad.) This town is definitely not Mercer Island, or Decorah. It’s the South, baby. Western Kentucky University, where the workshop is actually being held, is very different from Luther, and it feels very strange to me. As in, I still feel like I’m at Luther, but this isn’t exactly a place where you’d want to walk around at night alone at all. Not to mention the giant football and basketball facilities. While I’m not the only liberal arts student here, I’m definitely the only one having the kind of college experience that I have. I’m so thankful for it.

As far as the actual work goes, I spent some time this evening brainstorming with my teammates about ideas for a news website we could create about something important in Bowling Green. We chose to write about weather, in light of the recent tornadoes in the Plains states (Kentucky isn’t that far from Oklahoma and has had its share of tornadoes). Carly, Zach, Ali and I will interview local people and see how prepared they are if an EF-5 twister comes their way and use Vine to share it. I downloaded Vine a few days ago but haven’t used it yet – it’s one of the many tools I’ll learn to use well this summer! Today’s journalists really need to keep up with the technology and media scene to keep their voices heard. It’s good to be able to write well, and I believe I already do. It’s another to take advantage of the resources you have available. Now that I have a summer to focus on that, I can’t imagine where I’ll be by the end. I’ll be so enthusiastic to jump into my new role as the news editor of Chips.

Check back for periodic updates on how internship life is treating me. For now, I’ll try to wind down after reading a vivid story about brain surgery… eck…

Cheers,

Brita