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Stephanie Hall- TA?

March 15, 2011

After work today, I was trying think of a journalistic approach to the adage when life gives you lemons…

Here’s what I came up with… When your boss hands you a story idea…. make a print story with three sources, a podcast, some tweets, a photo slideshow and a video package. (To those of you in the world of convergence journalism you will find that funny — sorry to the rest of you)

But really what it boils down to is in journalism you never know what you’re going to get… lemons, breaking news… a teaching assistant position? The point is to take whatever your handed and use it to your benefit

(Here comes the personal anecdote to how this adage relate to my life right now)

About 3 weeks ago I was feeling relieved. Detours copyediting was done, the magazine designs were underway and I could finally start working on making headway on our website re-design, publicity for the magazine launch (April 15th!) and our new digital version of our magazine 🙂

Then came the lemon…. one morning while I was working on a newscast for KTRM, (student radio station) a journalism teacher stopped me in the hallway asking me to come speak to the news reporting and writing class that afternoon (aka in 3 hours). I was a little confused about the content of the speech, but the teacher assured me she’d send me an e-mail explaining the circumstances.

The circumstances:  The professor was requiring the pairs of students in the class to pitch story ideas to myself and the 3 other leaders of student media. Then we were in charge of choosing story ideas we liked. The teacher was requiring students to get them selves published in the student media. Because of “prior review” laws, faculty are not allowed to see a journalism story before it’s printed, so we are in charge of the student’s work from story pitch to completion.

This means I am in charge of vetting story ideas, teaching proper interview techniques, coaching their stories — print and multimedia — editing their stories and grading them.

As editor in chief of Detours, I knew there would be some curve balls, obstacles and new challenges thrown my way. Teaching students for a class? Not one of them. However it comes down to one thing… experience

While I’m not going for a degree in education, I do love coaching writers. So I’m trying to make lemonade here by looking at this as an opportunity to learn how to work with freelancers, how to assess writer’s strengths and weaknesses and work with writers of various backgrounds.

Overall getting to coach writers on stories (especially travel stories) is exciting and now I’m able to help so many students improve their writing.

So after 3 classroom visits I have ‘bought’ 5 stories for Detours which means I’m coaching 10 writers and have 5 print stories to coach and 5 multimedia pieces to edit. I have 4 more ‘buying’ sessions to go and plenty of more students to teach.

It’s a different way than I thought I would finish off my senior year, but now I can say that I helped teach student’s about magazine writing, which is something I’m proud to do.

Situations like this happen in all jobs. If given extra responsibility, try to embrace it and somehow use it to your advantage. You never know when a certain experience could land you a job.

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