I’ve always jokingly been told I should become a teacher. I suppose because my mother has taught first grade for the past 28 years. Maybe they think it’s in my blood? I’m not sure.
Well, I took a crack at it last week as I was asked to speak on behalf of The Newberry Observer at a career fair.
I’m not huge on public speaking. I much prefer to be behind the scenes, speaking through my written words, rather than in front of others where I cannot fix mistakes before they’re said. Nevertheless I agreed and thankfully had two months to prepare for the occasion.
I learned a lot about my job during those two months. You might say… she’s been there for over a year, what’s left to learn? Surprisingly, more than I thought.
With the help of a friend from church, I was able to put together a video, introducing the middle schoolers to one of the things that fascinates me most about newspapers — the process of putting them together.
In the video, I filmed the process of how after each story is written, myself and Kevin, the other staff writer, send them to our pressmen who input them into what’s called a “CTP” machine. CTP stands for computer-to-plate. That’s exactly what it does. The pages of the newspaper are printed on large metal plates that are then bent and placed into specific slots of the printing press located in the back of the building.
The printing press cuts and folds each page, as the pressmen adjust the color until it looks like what you hold in front of you as you drink your morning coffee. I knew that simply explaining this to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students wouldn’t do. No, they like to see things, experience them for themselves.
As I watched the video over and over again for the five hours that I visited the school, each time I fell in love with the newspaper process all over again.
You see, my friends, the work is difficult, the hours aren’t always short, and you may see and do things that most would not dream of doing. Unfortunately when someone loses everything in a fire or a family grieves the loss of their child in an unexpected tragedy, the news is there. So are we.
Carolyn Callahan from WIS-TV shared a room with me at the career fair, where we tried to explain these concepts to the students. When she said she had unfortunately seen a dead body, you could see mouths drop open. When we explained we do not always get our birthdays, our holidays and special occasions off, you could see the disappointment in their eyes.
The news is a non-stop, 24/7 business, like it or not.
You truly have to love what you do in order to make the choices and sacrifices to make ends meet.
I love what I do.
And every time I see that printing press spit out a batch of newly-printed newspapers I fall in love with the process all over again.
Elyssa Parnell is a staff writer for The Newberry Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.