I have been working in journalism full time since 2005, and the majority of that experience has been with Shaw Media, owner of the Kane County Chronicle, Elburn Herald and Sugar Grove Herald.
A recent college grad, I started with Shaw as a weekly reporter covering Grayslake for the Lake County Journal. I then became a daily reporter for the Northwest Herald in McHenry County, covering Harvard, Spring Grove and other towns.
I wound up going back to Lake County to be the editor of the weekly papers there, which I did for about three years. Then, the editor position opened in Kane County, where I find myself today.
I can’t claim to have worked in an inordinate number of newsrooms, but it seems each one I have been in has its own sort of energy.
That includes the newsroom I work in today.
I thought I’d take some time to reflect on what makes our newsroom what it is. Without further ado, here is my list of 10 things that makes our newsroom great.
1. We are a cast of characters – the reporters and editors here all have distinct personalities. If you’ve met Brenda Schory, you know what I mean.
2. Working hard is what we do – each person on our news team is dedicated to doing the best he or she can to help tell the news in our coverage areas.
3. The phone calls – man, we get some great phone calls around here. Legitimate phone calls with decent story ideas, but also some wacky phone calls that you just don’t know what to do with.
4. The emails and social media – again, there are the legitimate messages, but we also get some bizarre communications. Often, these can be good for a laugh.
5. The walk-in customers – did you know you can stop by our newsroom to buy a paper, pitch a story idea or learn more about our advertising options? It’s great to meet our readers in person.
6. Wild Wednesdays – the ladies at the front of our office, Jennifer Winder and Vicki Foley, often bring treats in on Wednesdays that help fuel the employees here. These days are dubbed Wild Wednesdays.
7. Our kudos board – you send us a complimentary email and it very likely will wind up on our kudos board in the breakroom. A great pick-me-up!
8. The police scanner – the chatter on the scanner is an appropriate backdrop to all that goes on in the newsroom and often leads to a juicy story.
9. The fire alarm – one time it went off about 11:30 p.m. on election night, a night we will never forget. (As far as we know, it was a false alarm.)
10. The scoops – getting a big scoop can make for a celebratory day in the newsroom. I’ll never forget when a reporter from a competing paper called us and asked us how we got a source for a certain story. We told her she was on her own.
That’s the news biz, baby!
Kathy Balcazar is weekly group editor for the Kane County Chronicle, Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove Herald and Suburban Life Media, and is a member of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association Board. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-845-5368. Learn more about NINA at ninaonline.org.