Like most folks, I try to clear work out of my mind when I’m on vacation. But I cannot resist the siren call of the newspaper. I just can’t.
Whenever I travel, I try to pick up at least a few copies of the local newspaper. For me, it’s fun to see what the local issues are and what’s going on around town. I also scour the papers for ideas I can bring home to my paper.
I used to think that this quirk of mine must drive my husband nuts when, without warning, I wander off in search of the grocery store’s newspaper display or the nearest vending box. But clearly he’s OK with my newspaper reading obsession, because he bought a copy of the paper for me when he made a quick trip to the store for snacks on our most recent vacation.
We spent five nights at lovely Deep Creek Lake in far western Maryland. Out there, the local newspaper is the The Republican, a weekly. The Cumberland Times-News, a daily, also circulates in the area, along with bigger papers from Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore and Morgantown, W.Va.
While in Deep Creek Lake, I read one issue of The Republican and two issues of the Cumberland Times-News.
I did get some ideas — in particular, I found it interesting that the Cumberland paper was apparently doing a bunch of special sections related to high school football, and they were printed about the size of one of those small TV sections. (We usually print special sections as tabloid-size.)
But I also saw that other papers have the same woes that we do.
I felt particular sympathy for a poor reporter at the Cumberland paper who was assigned to write an article about local residents’ fall plans. (Which depressingly revealed that most people didn’t have any interesting plans at all.)
It was Labor Day weekend — when the news is slower than molasses — so I imagine the staff was looking for something, anything to fill the pages. And that’s a good thing, actually. It reminded me that the best way to avoid getting stuck writing those awful stories is to come up with better ideas.
For example, I’ve avoided Black Friday shopping stories by pitching stories on a golf tournament (yes, in November!), what parents do with their kids that day and a Native American cooking demonstration.
So I better get my mind cranking on creative ideas for this holiday season. It’ll be here before we know it.