Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Let’s catch up

with 2 comments

I’ve been at the Santa Cruz Sentinel for two weeks now. I got there terrified I would screw up, but I haven’t yet (or at least, they didn’t tell me.) I’m working in a bureau in Watsonville, south of Santa Cruz county, a town that is 75% Latino, many of them migrant workers in the fields of strawberry and other amazing California crops. Goal #1: I really have got to learn Spanish.

So far, I’m the feature girl. I have written several, but none yet that I’m so proud of that I’d link to it here. Ok, I’ll give you this one just because I had a lot of fun doing it. Of course, it was very popular on the Web site since it has naked ladies.

I am hungry for something a little more meaty, so I’m looking for my own stories but it’s really hard when you don’t have an assigned beat and you don’t want to tread on other people’s beats.

In no particular order, here are a few things I’ve learned on my first couple weeks on the job.

1) Newsroom politics exist everywhere. No point in fighting it. Just sit at your desk, do your job well, and ignore the noise.

1 bis) Crappy computer systems exist everywhere, too.

2) I hate to say it, but having been a copy editor helps. Here, reporters write their own suggested heds and deks, and they stick most of the time – not necessarily because they’re brilliant, but because the copy desk seems to be grossly understaffed.

3) It’s easy to talk about ethics for hours on end at school, much harder to practice in a new newsroom.

4) You should try hard as hell anyway.

5) Come up with your own story ideas, and you won’t be assigned the fluff.

6) Coming up with your own story ideas when you’ve just been parachuted into a new city is just as hard as it sounds.

7) People really do recognize the name “Missouri School of Journalism.”

8) I prefer tough editors. ‘Nuff said.

9) I spent about a minute and a half giving a first read to a fellow intern’s work, and realized how much I miss working on other people’s writing.

10) I spent about a minute and a half getting back into writing, and realized how much I’d been missing it.


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Wednesday, 6 June, 2007 at 00:00

Posted in Random stuff

2 Responses

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  1. Iz, thanks for the props for the copy desk. Your experience sounds as if it’s good training grounds, but I’m sure you’ll do fine. keep well.


    Wednesday, 6 June, 2007 at 06:13

  2. That was a nice piece (the calendar girls). You’re right: people almost bow to “Missouri School of J”…
    Otherwise, how are you doing, dawg?


    Wednesday, 6 June, 2007 at 09:55

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