A Reporter’s Career Day

Senior Reporter Patrick Sullivan shared tales from a career in journalism for Career Day at Sharon Center School, April 11.

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A Reporter’s Career Day

SHARON — I was a guest speaker at Sharon Center School’s Career Day on Thursday, April 11.

For a week prior I carefully rehearsed and refined my remarks. I made careful notes.

Then I forgot to bring them.

I did remember my props. To wit, a pile of back issues of The Lakeville Journal and two stacks of Real Official Reporters Notebooks, as endorsed by H.L. Mencken, Woodward and Bernstein, and Clark Kent.

There were about a dozen of us. I knew Tom Bartram, who was representing the Sharon fire department along with Nikki Blass, Beth Klippel and Quentin Leibrock. Also on hand were Adam Smith, art sculptorist; Ashley Coon, formulation engineer; Sarah Coon, Owner of Paley’s Gardens; Zachary Rodriguez, electrician and Devon Sheehan, Sharon Center School nurse/hospital nurse.

At the appropriate moment we were herded into the gym/auditorium so the students could get a good look at us, and then it was off to the classrooms.

We each had three groups of six or eight students in rotation, each for about 15 minutes.

It’s a bit of a blur, but I explained what the Journal is, how I came to work for the paper, how we go about putting the paper together, how the seasoned reporter operates, and answered questions.

I found the way the middle school girls stared at me completely unnerving. As if they couldn’t quite believe it.

But as a whole the students were polite and engaged, asked good questions and even followed up a couple times.

One student asked how I became a reporter and received the unorthodox answer (“by accident”) with aplomb.

Another asked if a degree in journalism is required. Feeling diplomatic, I suggested that working on a newspaper — any newspaper — is the best way to learn the craft.

Good thing I brought the notebooks. That and the subsequent note taking advice chewed up five minutes easy.

The advice part went something like this:

Me: You should type or rewrite your notes as soon as possible after the class or event, before you forget what they mean. (Show page of old notebook to students.) Can you read that?

Students: No.

Me: Me neither. And I wrote it!

It’s been a long time since I stood before a classroom to impart Knowledge [sic on the capital K]. I admit to being a little rusty.

But by the third time through I was ready to take on all comers. Unfortunately, Career Day was over.

On the way out I thanked my host, School Counselor Elizabeth Foster, and reminded her that Lakeville Journal Managing Editor Riley Klein is much younger, considerably taller and overall a vastly better choice for such activities in the future.

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