Not all doom and gloom

The nature of being a newspaper journalist is that often, we’re writing about the worst thing that’s ever happened to someone. And that’s not fun.

It seems we’ve had these kind of stories in spades lately. I’ve been involved with many of them. My main job is to be the environment reporter, but I’m also a backup on our morning deadline for breaking news. And I volunteered to be “on call” on Independence Day, which ended up involving two deaths on the water.

Among the just plain awful stories I’ve been involved with recently include: a man slashing the throats of his wife and two

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, photo by multimedia journalist and environment reporter Pamela Wood.
Ahhh, this is more like it. The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary -- one of the places I've been able to do fun feature reporting instead of sad police reporting.

daughters before cutting himself, a freak accident that claimed the life of a teenage girl during sailing practice, a well-known and well-liked businessman committing suicide, a little boy drowning during a holiday outing to the beach and a man dying after being thrown from his boat.

But this post isn’t about those depressing stories. (Which, of course, are a million times worse for the subjects, friends and family than the stupid reporters.)

Thankfully, working for a general interest newspaper means I get to write fun and interesting stories, too. I’m glad to have a little professional balance.

This summer, my boss cooked up a weekly series that sends me out to places nearby that involve inexpensive, fun, outdoorsy things to do. My husband came up with the name for it: “Chesapeake Summer.”

I love, love, love the chance to spend a few hours every week exploring an interesting place. I get to wear my outdoorsy clothes and go hiking or paddling or bird watching. I’m meeting interesting people who have a passion for their favorite place or their favorite activity.

So far, we’ve published three of my “Chesapeake Summer” stories: Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Patuxent Research Refuge.

This morning, I spent two hours birding at a neat spot and next week, I’m heading to a nature preserve across the Bay Bridge. I don’t mind at all working on the weekend when it involves being outside and learning about nature.

I also got a really neat bit of feedback for the very first “Chesapeake Summer” story about Jug Bay. A woman from the sanctuary thanked me for the story and said that the very next day they were open, 15 people who came in said they came after reading about it in the newspaper. So people do still read newspapers after all.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, photo by multimedia journalist and environment reporter Pamela Wood.
The view through a wildlife viewing blind at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, one of the places I've visited for a summer feature series called "Chesapeake Summer."
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