Off the Press
August 2, 2011
By Tom Corrigan
What to remember on a new assignment
I was asked by my newest editor to sort of introduce myself to the Issaquah public through this column. The following probably isn’t what she had in mind, but here goes. We will start with a quick list of things to remember should you ever find yourself taking over a new beat for a local newspaper:
When you call the mayor of the town you’ll be working in and ask for comment, keep that person’s name someplace handy, like in your head. That way, when they call you back, you won’t sit there dumbstruck about who in the world is on the other end of the phone.
Make note of the company phone number. If for some reason you ever were curious about this topic, I can tell you the number for the Darigold dairy production facility is just a few digits different from the main number for The Issaquah Press.
If you are moving into a territory you are unfamiliar with, invest in a GPS. Enough said.
In case you haven’t somehow guessed, I am the newest reporter for The Issaquah Press. I last worked for a paper in Bothell, but spent most of my career in my native Cleveland covering big-city politics and big-city schools. Here, I’ll be doing features and covering smaller city schools, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
I have yet to go to a meeting of the Issaquah School Board. Nevertheless, I have faith those meetings will be quieter than those in Cleveland. One assumes no Issaquah teacher has ever stood up to complain about school cafeteria food and ended up whipping bologna sandwiches at board members. Also assuming there are not millions of dollars that seem to have gone missing, that the roofs of high school gyms are not going to be caving in any time soon.
All of these things really happened in Cleveland. Luckily, the last occurred when the building was empty so no one was hurt, and one result was that voters passed a capital improvement bond issue for the first time in something like 20 years. Guess people decided investing a few maintenance dollars might not be a bad idea after all.
Incidentally, for a while I loved covering the big-city stuff, even if it was for a weekly. I got a kick out of hanging out with the big boys, once having the mayor drive my car while being chased by her security (long story), and being among the first to ever walk into what was then the new Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Incidentally, I also got a little tired of Cleveland’s big-city stuff, too. You’ve seen one long argument fueled by racial politics, you’ve pretty much seen them all. And they never get any less ugly. Smaller beats decidedly have their attractions. It could be Issaquah may be one of the more inspiring beats I’ve had.
For example, in my first week here, I talked with two senior citizens — “senior” being a very relative term. One just wrote his first novel. The other won a gold medal in an international athletic competition and likes to take sprints up Tiger Mountain followed by 100 or so pushups. I’m not sure I could do 100 pushups in a week. In any case, these two may end up inspiring me to drop 50 pounds and finally write that fantasy. Or maybe that sentence is fantasy? At the moment, who knows?
No matter what happens, I’m still glad I met these gentlemen. This undoubtedly sounds corny, but meeting outstanding people is one of the perks of journalism no matter where you work.
And, hey, if anybody wants to start a food fight at a school board meeting, just let me know. I’ll bring my camera.
Sounds like fun.
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.