No rest for the weary

OK, maybe newspaper reporters aren’t exactly weary right now. (Check back at the end of the General Assembly session in April … plenty of reporters will be weary then.)

But there certainly is no rest for us, even though it’s a holiday week.

Newspapers take no break when it comes to Thanksgiving. In fact, I’d bet the Thanksgiving day paper — with its thick stack of ad supplements — is a good moneymaker for us.

At my company, we actually combine our main publications into one joint, mega-awesome, county-wide newspaper.

That sounds like it would be easier — producing one newspaper instead of two. But the editors and copy editors/page designers have to fill lots and lots of pages and have to make sure all of the regular features of each newspaper makes it in. I don’t envy the hard work they have.

And for us reporters, we still have to write just as many stories for each day this week — even though most of the rest of the world takes off two or more days. Most other folks get very little productive done this week.

2010 Capital-Gazette Newspapers Thanksgiving holiday edition, photo by multimedia journalist and environment reporter Pamela Wood.
2010 joint newspaper for Thanskgiving Day.

Almost every government is closed on Thursday and Friday. Many are closed on Wednesday, too, because of furlough days. Plus lots of people take vacations. Public schools in my county are closed all week.

That means reporters are left to leave lots of voice mail messages and to wait for e-mail replies that never come. Sometimes I think cops and firefighters and ER doctors are the only other people who work this week.

The day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday — is the worst day of the week for writing stories. It’s as if the whole world is shut down .

There is one reliable story on Black Friday and that is the shopping madness. Just thinking about that story gives me the hives.

Yes, I’m a woman, but I hate shopping. I especially hate shopping amid big crowds and crazy people. So writing about crowds of crazy people shopping is like torture to me.

The past several years, I’ve challenged myself to write interesting non-shopping stories on Black Friday.

A couple times, I went to a golf tournament. One year I wrote about how parents deal with antsy kids by taking them to the kiddie gym or the roller rink. Another year I hunted down an observance for Native American Heritage Day — that’s officially celebrated the day after Thanksgiving — and I wrote about that.

This year, I didn’t have to work so hard. I pulled night shift duty, meaning that I don’t go to work until 3 p.m., after most of the shopping madness has subsided.

My job will be to listen to the scanner and check in with police and firefighters for breaking news. It can be tedious when nothing is going on, but I’ll take it over covering shopping any time.

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