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Answering the call

April 10, 2013 - Jodelle Greiner
People get frustrated when they call a newspaper and ask for a reporter, only to be told, “I’m sorry, they aren’t in the office right now.” They’re thinking, “Aren’t reporters ALWAYS at the office, ready to run right out when called? That’s the way it is in the movies.”

Yes, and that’s why movies are fiction, folks.

News happens round the clock and reporters work when news happens. That means early in the morning, a lot of nights to cover meetings and sporting events, and weekends and holidays.

Speaking of weekends and holidays, let me tell you about last week.

Easter Sunday — 8:15-11:30 a.m. and Noon to 5 p.m.

I shot a youth pancake breakfast and a couple of Easter bunnies. After lunch, I worked from noon to 5 p.m. for a total of more than 8 hours — yes, on a Sunday and holiday to boot. See the above comment about when news happens.

With more than 8 hours gone from my work week, I had to be careful with my schedule for the rest of the week so I didn’t total more than 40 hours.

Monday — 1-8 p.m.

I had a staff meeting and a Blue Earth City Council meeting and totaled seven hours for the day.

Tuesday — 8:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 2-7:45 p.m.

In spite of getting off work at 8 p.m. the night before, I had to be back in the office at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday so I could get to the Faribault County Commissioners meeting at 9 a.m. During my afternoon shift, I wrote that commissioners meeting, made phone calls and answered e-mails, then headed over to Winnebago for an interview. A 10-hour day.

Since I already had more than 25 hours, I had to start rationing my time, even though I still had a lot to do this week.

Wednesday — 5:15-9:15 p.m.

Wednesday is my “easy” day, the day I lay out the Sentinel’s inside pages. Four hours.

Thursday — 1-5 p.m.

Thursday I tried to keep short and sweet. I had an interview scheduled, and with drive time and odds and ends duties, I got another four hours.

That brought me to just over 33 hours for the week, or just under 7 hours for Friday and I would need every minute.

Friday — 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-5:45 p.m.

I wrote a feature for the Weekender and laid out the Sentinel/PLUS shopper. That sounds easier than it was, because we have been fighting problems with the server — I’ll spare you the details — but it means we can’t do part of our jobs until it gets fixed. I used the time to try to catch up on my writing. I came in at 40 hours.

That’s just one week, folks. Reporters don’t have a set schedule, we don’t even know how long we’ll work that day when we come in. It’s a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together every day, but the pieces keep changing shape.

So if you’ve ever wondered why it seems reporters are never in the office, it’s because we’re out covering the news, whenever and wherever it happens.


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