Anyone who has tried to write a speech or an article or a report knows that writing is hard work. I’m sure even best-selling authors and Pulizer Prize-winners agonize over word choice and punctuation.
At a newspaper, there’s the extra challenge of not only making your work readable, it must be accurate. And, to a large extent, we don’t get to write what we want. We can’t make up our characters; we don’t decide what they do. We’re handed a set of facts, we try to draw out good quotes from our subjects, and then we turn that all into what you read in the newspaper.
That said, it’s possible to have fun and be creative while writing news copy. I challenged myself this weekend to be more creative, and I think it worked out well.
I was (once again) on weekend duty. Saturday was yet another day of record-breaking heat in Maryland. Although I hadn’t officially been assigned a weather story, I knew the bosses would want one. So here’s what I cooked up.
I decided to drive around Anne Arundel County throughout the day, looking for people dealing with the heat. I thought it would be neat to write little vignettes and start each with the time and location. My husband suggested adding the temperature, which was a great idea.
Here’s the resulting story, if you’d like to check it out.
I’ll also share just one section of the story. This gentleman was the first person I interviewed, and I knew I hit jackpot almost as soon as he started talking. A marathon runner! Training in 95-degree heat! Perfect!
10:44 a.m., Severna Park High School, 95 degrees:
Tom Bradford braved the weather to fit in an important workout, running 10 miles at the school track as he prepares for a marathon in Canada next month.
Bradford, a retired government linguist from Shipley’s Choice in Millersville, has completed marathons in all 50 states. Now he’s knocking off the Canadian provinces.
“Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate,” Bradford advised, showing the water bottle he had nearly drained during his run.
That said, he admitted he wouldn’t be out running if he didn’t have the marathon to prepare for. And he doesn’t recommend most others try what he did.
“Unless you’ve got a darn good reason to be out here, don’t do it,” Bradford said.
I also had some fun with a crime item I stumbled across while at the police station on my weekend shift.
It’s a rather minor incident that wouldn’t necessarily be newsworthy. But it was a bit unusual and I came up with a clever way to start off my write-up, which appeared in the “Police Beat” section. (The rest of the item is rather pedestrian, but it’s worth it for the lede.) Enjoy!
Friday was not a good day for Jawan Edwardo Smith. First he got beat up, then he landed in jail.
City police officers were called to the scene of a large fight on Newtowne Drive in Annapolis shortly after midnight Friday.
They found no evidence of the fight and no witnesses – just Smith, who had cuts on his upper lip and right eyebrow, a knot on the side of his head and scratches on his right shoulder, according to a police report.
Smith, 31, who lives at 111 Clay St., refused to say how he had been injured. He was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center, but when he was released he was immediately arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation.
A court commissioner ordered Smith held without bail at the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Parole.