RHS students learn at the ReminderNews

By Erin Connolly and Emily Champagne - RHS Students
Vernon - posted Tue., Feb. 15, 2011
RHS students Erin Connolly (center) and Emily Champagne ask questions of ReminderNews Pre-Press Manager Pam Stone. Photos by Steve Smith.
RHS students Erin Connolly (center) and Emily Champagne ask questions of ReminderNews Pre-Press Manager Pam Stone. Photos by Steve Smith.

By Erin Connolly: Each year, the Rockville High School Career Center allows students a day to job-shadow at various workplaces throughout Connecticut. After hearing about an open spot for the ReminderNews, I jumped at the chance to sign up. I have always been interested in the news process, so I knew a job shadow would be a great way to take a behind-the-scenes look into the world of reporting.

The ReminderNews building I visited was located less than half a mile from Rockville High School. When I walked into the deceivingly tiny building, I imagined the type of newspaper office like The Daily Planet in the Superman movies, with all the computers buzzing and the keyboards clicking and papers flying everywhere. I thought there would be one floor with rooms and offices scattered here and there. Instead, I found there were two floors with many different departments attached, including news, classifieds, sales, creative, as well as the press rooms.

Fellow shadower Emily Champagne and I were led to the news department, where we sat down with Andrew J. Concatelli, the assistant editor.

Mr. Concatelli gave us a quick description about how the newspaper runs and the 16 territories in Connecticut that the ReminderNews covers. His desk held a bundle of articles and a book called the “Associated Press Stylebook,” the rule book the ReminderNews refers to whenever there is a grammar question. Mr. Concatelli showed us a few of the many articles he had to edit for the day.

During the edits, we found that the ReminderNews does not use the Oxford Comma (the comma used before “and” in a list. Ex: computers, keyboards, and printers buzzing), nor does it capitalize every first letter of each word in the title of the article. Also, numbers under 10 are written out in words, while numbers above 10 are written as numbers. Personally, I find the English language quite fascinating.

I couldn't grasp the idea that these reporters were responsible for writing so many articles on such a tight deadline. Two minutes ago, I was told I had only five minutes to finish this article, and I haven't even touched upon all the other wonderful people we met today, like staff writer Steve Smith, Managing Editor Joan Hunt, community news editor Lauri Voter, and others, and the big press machines that hold rolls of paper that literally weigh a ton and the blast of the siren at random intervals of the day signifying when the paper is ready to go through the press.

This experience has given me great insight to a career I hope to pursue in the future. It is easy to see everyone here works with such diligence and passion for providing the community with news.



By Emily Champagne: Every year, students from Rockville High School get the opportunity to participate in a job-shadow at a number of businesses and different occupations. Each student learns what it is like to work in a certain job field and what people in that career do on a daily basis.

When I went to sign up, I automatically looked towards the art/writing careers, but was disappointed to see that the list was relatively short. Almost automatically, I chose journalism at the ReminderNews, knowing that there would be writing involved. Seeing as how I like writing, it was only the natural choice.

When arriving, I had no idea what to expect. I assumed that it would be a small office complex with plenty of people milling around and comparing notes with each other and shouting out headlines. But as the tour began, I was surprised to see how different my idea was from the reality.

There are so many steps in putting together a newspaper that I never even thought about. You need reporters to write the stories and take pictures, then you need your editors to edit the work and then you need to transfer the work from the computer to paper and then the paper goes into the machine to be transferred to newsprint. The process seems like it would take weeks, but the staff at the ReminderNews manages to get 16 editions done in one week. It blows my mind how they do it.

Erin Connolly, my fellow shadower, and I first spent time with the assistant editor, Andrew J. Concatelli, as he taught us what to look for while editing news articles, as well as the layout and formatting for the newspaper. We learned how the editing process works and that a single article can be inspected by up to three different people before making it in to the paper. We even had the chance to try editing a few of the articles for future editions.

The work involves a lot of knowledge on the subject, and both Connolly and I were stunned at how fast Concatelli could edit and read every article with such great precision.

Our next stop was with staff writer Steve Smith. Both Connolly and I were surprised to find that reporters not only write the articles, but take the pictures for them, as well. Smith showed us the process of choosing the right photographs for the article, and he explained to us a normal week in the life of a reporter.

The day was a true learning experience. I didn't know what to expect, but the staff was extremely kind and welcoming and I felt comfortable. They were all very knowledgeable and able to answer any questions that Connolly or I threw their way. I feel like I learned a lot more than I had expected to. I didn't guess that I would learn about the photographic side of the paper or get to write a story myself, but I'm happy that I did. It made me feel more included in the day's activities and gave me a better insight into the life of a journalist.

I never truly considered journalism as a career choice for myself, but after today I can view it as a possibility in my course of picking a future for myself. If any student is looking for a way to discover a new career possibility, job-shadowing is a definite must. There is no better way to understand a career than to live a day in the life of someone who practices that career daily.

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