It dawned on me that last week I had been in Newton for five months. It’s crazy how the time flew, but as they say, “Time flies when you are having fun.”
For the most part it has been an incredible five months here. One thing that drew my interest to the Daily News was that the job description asked for a “Community Reporter.” That is something I wanted to fully embrace, and I believe I have.
When I run into kids around town they say, “Hey, you were at my school!” So then I proceed to guess what school they go to and what event I met them at. But it’s fun.
I enjoy hanging out and talking with the kids, even when I’m not hunting for a story.
I’m also on a first-name basis with a ton of local officials, educators, and a whole mess of citizens, some of whom are eager to give me tips, although they all don’t work out (lack of sources, wrong phone numbers, no contact information, or scheduling mishaps).
The community reporter aspect is why I choose to be so personal in my columns; I want our readers to know the man behind the words they read in the paper. Since I can’t go around town and meet everyone personally (I’ve probably gotten pretty close though) “Ty’s Take” is my way of letting readers know me better.
After all, it’s only fair that people get to know me, since I spend so much time trying to get to know them.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but yeah, my job is also pretty freaking cool. In one week, I went down a bouncy slide, watched F-16s take off at close range, hung out at the Relay for Life event, and saw what all the hoopla was about during race weekends at Iowa Speedway.
Just last week, I watched kids learn and live out their CSI dreams, posed for photos with the governor, enjoyed Zombie Burger with two Vietnam veterans (who had actually never been there before), and got some recognition for my veterans’ job fair article. In addition, I had another awesome race weekend and introduced our new staff writer, Dave Hon, to the legendary Thursday karaoke nights at The Scoreboard.
I also take credit for the black binder at The Scoreboard that contains all the newer songs. You’re welcome, Newton.
There have been some down moments, as well as some moments of extreme frustration, too, but that comes with the territory at any job. Here at the Daily News, I feel like I work with bosses who have my best interests at heart and who are loyal.
A few months back, I was falsely accused of unethical behavior, and our leadership team had my back 100 percent. I have worked in environments where the leadership team didn’t listen to their employees and left them out to dry on numerous occasions, so for me, that moment was a nice change of pace.
Back in February, I attended the Iowa Newspaper Assocation annual convention and awards banquet, and I have been obsessed with hearing my name called out there ever since. I want to win.
No, I have an inherent need to win one. I am a very competitive person and sports writer Dustin Turner jokes that whenever I really want something it’s, “My INA for the day.”
County Treasurer Doug Bishop always jokes with me that my veteran coverage is going to get me a Pulitzer, but for now I want that INA. I think I have a lot of pieces that are worthy.
I’ve also provided a ton of coverage to the local music and arts scene and have just found some great random human interests stories. There is never a dull moment in Jasper County, people.
You just have to know where to look.
I love that when I talk to people around town, they always give a different answer as to what story of mine they liked best. This column has been the top selection, others have said my coverage of vets, and some have said the arts/music stories.
I’ve also heard a lot of positive reaction for my education stories, as well. And I was kind of shocked how much people enjoyed my temporary foray into business reporting.
This has been a remarkable five months for me and I hope that people keep feeding me great stories ideas and continue to open themselves up to this former resident of the Sunflower State. After all, I still have another seven months to go until the next INA convention, and I plan on winning.