This past Friday, I was invited to speak to two of Jo Ellen Linn’s English classes at Berg Middle School on being a reporter, the importance of English and language arts in school and why I chose to be a journalist.
This opportunity was afforded to me after one of my random visits to BMS earlier in the school year and I didn’t want to disappoint. I spent hours going over my Google Doc Presentation (similar to PowerPoint), scoured through the thousands of photos I’ve taken since January and really thought about the message I wanted to convey.
After all that prep, I was more than ready and I easily entertained and informed two classes for a little more than two hours.
We had such a great time in fact, we ran out of time during the first class and I didn’t get to answer all of their questions. So I’m going to use this week’s Take to answer a few of those questions.
I’m going to start it off with a few from my buddy Skylar.
Q: Who was your first report about?
A: I believe it was my front-page story about Kids Against Hunger, that ran on Jan. 18.
Q: Have you ever reported about a celebrity?
A: Many times. I met and did a story on Stedman Graham while in junior college, which may have been my first exposure to someone famous.
Since then, I’ve met athletes, politicians, musicians, authors, artists, business moguls and all sorts of well known people through my experiences in college, interning and here at the Daily News.
Skylar had a ton of other questions, but I have several letters so let’s jump around a bit.
Q: Who is the coolest person you have ever met/covered?
A: This is pretty tough and there’s no way you can narrow it down to one person. I mean my friend, jazz singer Lisa Engelken is a pretty cool customer (thanks for the new album). Some members of the governing boards I cover are pretty cool, I must say.
There’s the county official with great taste in hats, a certain school board member who drives a scooter and makes it look cool, and so many of our local politicians wear their hearts on their sleeves, which I think is pretty cool.
I really can’t narrow it down to one person and a lot of people are cool in their own way in my opinon.
This next question comes from Mariah.
Q: What is it like reporting on important situations?
A: This is going to sound make me sound like such a journalism nerd, but I get a rush from those important situations. Like when I sat-in on a special school board meeting where they chose the next superintendent, I got a rush.
When I witness six qualified candidates each tell a room full of Newtonians why they should be the next person elected to the Newton Community School District’s Board of Education, I got a rush.
When I’m at this big education related “shin-dig” sitting with members of the press from all around Iowa, just for the governor to specially mention a school in Jasper County, I get a rush.
I love this industry and this job. I get more excited when a heavily debated measure gets passed or a big debate takes place than I do for going to cover an accident or a fire. For me, reporting on important matters is like the Super Bowl for an NFL player.
My next set of questions comes from Remy, but since they are all short, I’ll combine them.
Q: Ty, how is your day, do you have kids, do you have a car, and did you like school?
A: My day is pretty fantastic, no kids (too cheap for that), yes, I am on my third car in my lifetime and I loved school!
I absolutely love this next question from Brittany.
Q: Are you doing newspaper for the money or just because you wanted to?
A: I’m so glad you asked this because there is no way any of us in this industry do this for the money. Journalism is a passion project. It has to be something you really love and want to do for a long time. People that get in this industry to make money or are expecting to make money have the wrong motivations and are better suited doing something else.
This next question comes from Ashley.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was being an all around lackey for my mom’s gift basket business. I would deliver baskets, load them in the car, carry her supplies and what other tasks she had for me. I rarely got paid and as my mom so often reminded me: “I paid you with those clothes on your back and toys in your room.”
This last person didn’t put his or her name on their questions.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?
A: The people. Talking to people, meeting people, interviewing people, making connections with people and telling their stories, it all stems from the people you meet. I’ve had the pleasure to meet a veteran of every major U.S. offensive from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
I’ve met a widow who lost her husband during 9/11. I met my office hours buddy Bob, I’ve got to meet wonderful educators, elected officials, business owners, retirees, artists, musicians, students, families, farmers, directors, and everyone under the sun.
People are why I got into this business and why I plan to stay in it for a long, long, time.
Once again, thanks to Jo Ellen and Berg for having me. If any other school, group or organization wants me or another staff member to speak, feel free to contact us.