Scanners – Music to My Ears

Scanners. They can be a great nuisance to some and music to others. I am of the latter influence.

It can be a considerable learning curve, listening to scanners. There are various codes used to denote the various emergencies and the severity of each. Knowing when to repeat what you have heard, and when not to, also takes experience.

I was a preteen when I was first introduced to scanners. I remember being enthralled by them, when my mother and I would visit a neighbour friend of hers.

As someone who has always been quite inquisitive, I enjoy listening to scanners. Hearing of the various goings on; fires, accidents, etc is something that has interested me for a good many years.

On the flip side, as someone who has been in an ambulance on more than one occasion, I find it interesting in itself, learning what the code is for someone having seizures. (Can be anywhere from an Alpha, the least serious, to a Delta which stipulates two ambulances or an ambulance and a fire truck responding to the call).

I know also, not everyone likes listening to scanners. Quite frankly, the vast majority of my friends can’t stand hearing them. At home, I’ll listen through headphones.

Yet I must say, as someone working at the Edmonton Journal now, as part of a Mentorship program, I love walking past the cop desk.


Art of the Interview

Yesterday I worked at the Edmonton Journal, as I do every Tuesday. I was given an assignment to devise questions for not one, but two mock interviews. I gave myself a deadline of just over an hour.

Well for one, I was given feedback on the questions I had come up with for one “interview.” Being transparent to a fault, as I tend to be, I must admit still needing to work on confidence. Addressing myself in a confident, purposeful manner is still a learning curve for me.

With that knowledge however, it was still a fun exercise in furthering my knowledge and skill level as a journalist. No one is perfect, and that certainly does include me. A local journalist once told me that having a passion for journalism was important. Now it is just a matter of learning, observing and experiencing the things I will undoubtedly need to know to be a good journalist. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Becoming a good journalist, capable of reporting any news story thrown at them, or interviewing anyone, does not happen overnight either. To me, learning is half the fun!

Journalism – Lot of Fun, Little Glamour

While I haven’t met anyone, who thought journalism was “all glamour and fun,” I have heard of these disillusioned individuals. I am at the bottom of the barrel, as far as a journalism career goes. Yet, for me, with working in a newsroom for the first time, my day consists of waking up and watching news; arriving to the newspaper where I promptly set out learning of my day’s assignment, and then getting to work researching online and making calls when needed. Yes, this is my passion and I have a blast every day I am in the newsroom.

It is FAR from easy. There are times when researching something, leads me no where fast. I won’t kid you either, it really sucks when this happens. Thankfully it hasn’t happened to me too often.

The really fun part of the day is setting out to write. News stories, news blurbs, etc – writing is my thing. I look forward to the time when I can go to my first news conference. Yet, that brings about another “unglamouress” fact about journalism – riding in taxis. While a great many taxi drivers are great, know their way around the city, and even engage in conversation; there are some I’ve encountered who have not been as pleasant.

So really while I do find journalism fun, exciting and at times an adrenaline rush, this is just me. I am biased towards journalism as its been a lifelong dream to work as a journalist. It really isn’t for everyone though. Deadlines, sometimes having to research on topics that just plain bore you to tears, and other reasons make journalism what it is. I love it, but really I do get it when journalists say it’s not glamour. Trust me, even I know journalism isn’t all glamour. Journalism may be fun for me, but it’s a lot of hard work too.

Continuing to Learn

One of the main purposes of the Mentorship program I am in, at the Edmonton Journal, is to learn.  I have the opportunity to learn research skills, how to properly write news stories and other writing pieces, and other skills a journalist needs to know. With my learning these new lessons in journalism, I have questions.

Last year, in May, there was a random snow storm that seemed to happen out of no where. Well that was all well and good, but something happened that day, that introduced me to something I think all journalists learn at some point in their careers. That day there was a train versus truck collision and all the occupants (one father and his two children) perished.

Now death does happen. As a long time news junkie, not much that I read about or hear about, really gets to me. This time, it was a big ton of bricks slamming down on me really hard and fast. How? I had met that man and his girls previously. So it struck me to wonder…

How do journalists separate their personal feelings, and continue to do their jobs, when the news they’re reporting on is about someone they know, or otherwise affects them on a personal level?

I’ve had a year to think about this. My best guess is, journalists are professionals and committed to their jobs. If the big story of the day, affects them personally, I believe they would just do their jobs first and then react in private.

This question has been coming up, for me, again recently. I have at least one relative who lives in Slave Lake. Their house is now destroyed due to the fire ravaging the town.

So, if any journalists are reading this… How DO you separate personal feelings in situations like these, and continue to do your job as objectively as if it were a non issue?

Growing Interest in Meteorology

I love weather. I think, in different ways, I always have.

When I was growing up, I would watch Bill Matheson’s weather forecasts. I would end up laughing, with every forecast. Can a person really end up laughing during a weather forecast? The short and simple answer is a resounding yes! Especially, with regard to Mr. Matheson’s style of forecasting. There were always jokes and antics. Of course one can never forget the meter stick. He would bang it on the floor at the end of every forecast (or at the end of every forecast I can remember).

This was my introduction to weather. Did I understand anything about meteorology? No. Did I know what the heck a warm or cold front was, or why some clouds produce rain and others don’t? Nope. At the tender age of 7, I hadn’t a clue. All that I knew and understood, was Bill Matheson was funny. A grandfather type; jovial and always ready with a belly laugh.

However I’m older now. I still don’t know the complete ins and outs of meteorology, or understanding weather patterns, and how there could be a 30 percent chance of rain one day, and 60 percent chance the next day. I do know a few basics however.

I have a rough idea of what a weather trough is (a low pocket or trench in the atmosphere, where hot or warm air can settle in). I also have a base understanding of what causes tornadoes to form, the different types of clouds and what type of weather is associated with each, and other meteorology terms and facts. I have definitely grown in my understanding, and love of meteorology.

As for living in an extreme weather climate, that serves to fuel my interest all the more. I am forever intrigued and mystified how quickly weather conditions can change. There is an old saying “Alberta weather changes every five minutes.” That, in my observations through the years, is true and describes the climate Albertans live in, to a T.

So as a new junkie, I follow the news each day. That includes following weather forecasts on TV from the local weather specialists and meteorologists. My career aspiration is to work in journalism. One day, with a lot of hard work, I hope to work in TV news. My main focus is news but with my unceasing interest in meteorology, who knows, maybe I’ll be able to fill in for a meteorologist or weather specialist someday. Though, I have a lot more to learn about the science of weather and weather prediction before that could ever be a real possibility.

Grateful thanks to Citytv Edmonton weather specialist Michele McDougall, CTV Edmonton meteorologist Josh Classen and Global Edmonton meteorologist Nicola Crosbie, for their help in making this blog post possible.

Never-ending Hunt for a Story

Recently I was given advice from a reporter. They were offering advice on how to find a story to write about. Yesterday, I had a stop to make before work about a block or so, from the Journal. On my walk to work, I met a woman who, as it turns out, has an interesting story to tell. Originally from Sri Lanka, her parents had moved her immediate family to Edmonton to provide a better life for themselves. The family also had at least one relative who had moved to Edmonton.

I’m sure the story does not end there. I have long since been fascinated by other cultures and how people come from all different walks of life. I may never see this person again, but would love to talk to them again.

Talking to someone on my way to work; totally at random, I unearth a small, but intriguing story. This experience has taught me something. I have grown to hold the philosophy “everyone has a story to tell.” The conversation I had with someone, while on my way to work, seems to confirm this. I wonder what I will learn next time I engage someone in casual conversation?