Countdown to Graduation – Week of March 31

Countdown to Graduation


posted 3/24/2009

Keeping Busy

I just couldn't help myself, I had to get another job. That brings the grand total up to 5. I'm now a sports stringer for the News of the Orange out of Hillsborough. For those of you who don't know what a stringer is, it's similar to a freelance writer. Whenever there is a game that needs to be covered, I'll just get an e-mail or phone call and head out to the game.

I found this opportunity through a UNC Journalism school listserv and covering high school sports is right up my alley. I e-mailed the guy before I went on Spring Break and met with him after. The News of the Orange is a publication with only two full-time staffers. It's community journalism at its best covering everything from school board meetings to spelling bees. Josh, the guy I met with, said they needed me to cover one high school game a week and also take pictures. That's probably what I was most excited about, that I would to add photographer to my resume. 

Driving into Hillsborough from Chapel Hill is really like crossing into another part of the world. It's so quaint and everything seems to have some sort of historical significance. I love the town hall and the old houses, as well as the mom and pop shops that are still surviving even in these tough economic times. I didn't even know there was such a thing as an archery store, but Hillsborough has one. It's almost like the town is untouched by the outside world, and the most exciting thing? Free public parking! Chapel Hill would probably explode before that happened.

Although newspapers are in general dying and more or less digging their own graves (that's sure to be a blog post soon), community newspapers are still doing relatively well because articles are written about things the community actually cares about and that they wouldn't be able to find online. There's probably not going to be a blog post about the Cedar Ridge vs. Orange rivalry high school lacrosse game floating out there on the internet, so that's where I come in.

I went by the office and picked up the camera before heading to Cedar Ridge High School. I got there about 2 hours early, as I was nervous about being late. (I had gotten lost going to Hillsborough the first time and was unfortunately about 15 minutes late to my meeting with Josh.) I sat down to watch some of the J.V. game, but it was getting pretty chilly so I headed back to my car and used the free time to get some school reading in. The game started 30 minutes late, so I wasn't left with a lot of time to get good light for my pictures. I thought this photography thing was easy; just let the camera do the work for me. Turns out, I was wrong. Really wrong.

I must have been a sight, racing up and down the sidelines trying to get action pictures, all while trying to write what was going on in my reporter's notebook. I also made a poor choice of shoes, so I couldn't feel my feet about halfway through the night. It was a struggle, that's for sure. I still don't understand how you take still pictures of moving people at night. I even called my friend in D.C. who is a photographer. He tried to help me, but he kept using words I didn't quite understand like shutter speed and panning. Taking pictures throughout the game did make it go a lot faster and took my mind off the numbness in the lower half of my body and fingers. And, some nice parent volunteers helped me with the numbers and names of the players. That was a big change after covering the Olympics and college sports for the past year. When you're writing a story about high school sports, really the most important thing is to get as many kids' names in as possible and make as many parents happy as you can. You can't criticize kids and you're not really trying to write the next Pulitzer.

I took the camera back to Josh the next morning, bashful and apologetic. I didn't think my pictures were really up to par, I just hoped some were usable. He empathized with me, commenting on how hard it is to do sports at night. I'm honestly a little worried he'll never call me back to do another a game. I'd like to try a sport like baseball that goes a lot slower. And if he doesn't, can I still put photographer on my resume? I sure hope so.

5 part-time jobs might be considered a lot. I think of it as trying to make and save as much money as possible, so when I realize how difficult it will be to find one full time job to replace those 5 part-time ones, I'll have something to carry me over at least for a little while.


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