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What is it like being a staff writer?
I consider myself a newbie at Hometown Focus even though I have been on the editorial staff since August of 2015. Often times I am asked what it’s like working for the paper; I love it even though it’s a crazy ride. Our interim editor Cindy Kujala sums it up perfectly by saying, “Putting the paper together each week is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle and finding the missing pieces at the last minute.”
I have been complimented on my writing, which I am very appreciative of, but there is so much more that goes into the final product each week, and it is definitely a team effort between all the departments that make up the HTF staff.
The graphics department, made up of “The Kids,” as we call them, consists of two very talented people, Hannah and Marcus, who are always on the radar in keeping us up-to-date as to page layout, ad changes, how much space there is for content, working with photographs that are submitted, etc. They are young, knowledgeable and excel in sarcasm. Those of us in the editorial department work most closely with them as we try to gather together the ever-moving pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.
The three of us that work in the editorial department do have the occasion to write our own by-lined articles, but we also take care of editing contributor and columnist submissions as well as filling in the openings on pages that are ever-changing depending upon ad space or last-minute content.
Aside from having the opportunity to write a feature story, which I view as the fun part of my contribution to the paper, I work on researching and posting the calendar of events happening in our communities or sharing information on what animals are up for adoption from the many agencies in our readership area that care for the furry friends that need to find a home.
We have an erasable board on one wall in our shared office that serves as a guide to our upcoming issues and features and possible stories to pursue. Cindy works on a story list that is ever in flux and enters that information on the board. Right now, the story content and feature edition list on that board is into July.
Our larger editions are those that cover mining, health and our spring wedding edition. These have many more pages than our usual weekly paper and finding content for these always presents a challenge. There is plenty of fodder out there for us to use; it’s just a matter of bringing all of that together and make it work to convey the stories to our readers.
We are also on a continual search for historical articles, especially those that pertain to the rich and varied background that make up the many communities in this area of northern Minnesota.
The goal of HTF is to have those who want to contribute send us what it is they wish to share. Over the nine years that the paper has been in operation, the ultimate goal has been to include as many contributors as possible from the cities, towns, townships and rural communities that make up our distribution area. To date we have had over 750 contributors from 45 different communities have their contributions published.
Along with those who contribute written articles, we are also very fortunate to have those that provide a never-ending supply of beautiful photographs that we use both in our printed copy and on our website. I am ever impressed to see the talent that so many have in capturing that perfect moment in time. A beautiful sunset, an owl or eagle seemingly posed for a portrait, an unexpected view of a rusted car in the middle of the woods, or just a snap-shot of people in our communities participating in the activities they enjoy. All of these are reflective of what HTF loves to share.
Another aspect that I enjoy in being a writer for the paper is that everywhere I look, there is potential for a story. A day spent on the lake fishing, a sporting or musical event at a school, a flower class at a local community center; every day the lives that we lead open themselves to a story. Mind you, they are not always happy, but they are the stories of our lives.
To me, the stories of our lives are what the paper is all about. We who work at the Hometown Focus paper are a family. Sometimes the road is a bit bumpy and there are times when we sit back at deadline time and wonder how we made it, but we do, and have, week after week. The best reward is the feedback from our readers who continue to compliment us and tell us how much they love the paper. Mission accomplished! May it continue to grow and thrive for many years to come.