Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Digital journalist: Having fun again

It's been a busy week, much of it spent scurrying about, meeting municipal officials, attending a city press briefing and then live-blogging during a forum on Elgin's form of government. In between times, I ran about looking for -- and after the third stop, finding -- a digital voice recorder with a USB port, a couple of notebooks and a satchel to carry around a Netbook.

The digital recorder was it's own little adventure. Back in the day, reporters either relied solely on notes or used a clunky tape recorder that you were lucky if you could get it into a coat pocket. Later there were microcassette recorders, a smaller, slimmed-down version of the standard cassette recorder that still was large-ish but easier to carry around.

But the digital recorders today are far smaller and far more advanced -- the USB port gives me the option of downloading an interview into my computer, where I can edit it into sound bites to accompany stories online.

The Netbook is far smaller than the HP laptop I used as a Web editor for Sun-Times Media, but it also lacks the power of that laptop. Still, it is convenient to use, although on Tuesday I did run out to buy a pair of cheap reading glasses to help me read the smaller print on a smaller viewing screen.

Today will be busy as well. I live-blogged my first public forum on Monday, where the ongoing dialogue was pretty much nonstop. I used a website called Cover It Live, which operates similarly to Twitter, except that the posted entries stay in chronological order from top to bottom. During the blogging, the program gives the user(s) the capability of adding photos, videos and links during the course of the event, as well as moderating comments  being posted by online observers.

For three years, I've been working on the "production end" of Web publication, and it was fun. But now I am learning new skills that are more cutting edge than those I used when I was a reporter way back when. The pay is not as good, but then this is a start-up venture and the work is part-time. And I am learning new skills and am writing again.

And Tuesday night, I spent several hours poring over city council agendas and googling terms or searching through the city's website to see if I could find links to add when I live-blog tonight's city council meeting.

And during all of this, I still must learn to budget my time and meet the state's requirements for proving that I am in search of full-time employment. Failure to send out enough resumes or fill out job applications each week likely would cost me the meager unemployment benefits I get, and this family cannot afford that.

So at the end of the day, I sit, worn out. But I'm having fun again, and looking forward to working tomorrow. It's truly fun!