MARK YOUR CALENDAR. A month from now we’ll publish our annual summertime “double issue” and then we’ll take a week off. To be more exact, whatever else we’re doing August 11, 2022, we will Not be publishing a separate print edition Columbia Paper that Thursday.
We need a vacation and maybe our readers would like one too. You know, all that stuff about recharging your creative batteries and gaining new perspectives. It’s true. I’m planning to go get one of those new hips installed. I can’t guarantee that will make me any better at editing the news, but I might learn something new. It’s surprising how much you can accomplish in a week when you’re not locked into your workday routines.
Whenever we do take a short break (twice a year) we get phone calls, letters and email from readers irked about not receiving their paper. If the past is any guide, I expect that next month, when we explain why there was no August 11 paper, almost all the callers will change their tone from unhappy to sympathetic, except for a few who are disappointed they can’t blame the U.S. Postal Service. So in advance of the double issue I say a heartfelt thank-you to all our readers for caring so much about this newspaper.
It’s a big deal to disrupt readers’ expectations. We don’t take that concern lightly. But right now The Columbia Paper and our website, www.columbiapaper.com need at least two more people to report local news.
We need people willing to show up—in-person and/or digitally—wherever Columbia County news is being made and then to produce abbreviated written accounts of what they’ve seen and heard. Reporters determine when and where and work on stories at home.
Reporting is challenging. It can also be deeply rewarding as you gradually become a trustworthy non-fiction storyteller, connecting individuals and communities with the county.
Mastering these skills can produce a powerful resume. It introduces you to the political, educational and cultural leaders of the county. You get paid too. All our contributors are private contractors.
If you think you’d like to try being a freelance reporter, here are some of our expectations:
•It helps if you’re curious
•It helps even more if you are curious to the point of being nosy
•Good reporters must be honest and fair… and nosy
•Get everyone’s name and spell them all correctly (news sources will mark your email as spam if you can’t spell their names right).
The equipment you’ll need includes a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer (any computing device with a keyboard and a screen larger than a sheet of toilet paper will do) and a car that will start on its own.
Being a reporter should never be a platform for pursuing a grudge or knowingly reporting false information. And being “nosy” doesn’t require being impolite. Keep in mind that the word “nosy” isn’t mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but “the press” is. Article 1 of the Bill of Rights says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” Our job is nothing less than observing and sharing the fundamental process of democracy at work.
Sometimes the job is exciting; sometimes not so much. Did I mention that we’ll print a double issue August 4 and no printed issue August 11?