Intern Reflection: Finding redemption in a solar-powered lighthouse

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Want to hear something crazy?

No?

Me neither.

In a rare splash of positive sunshine news, I have found myself consecrated among the world I once found dull.

There is a life-giving element to the Lifestyle section.

You need it. You do. Admit it. It’s not “petty.” It’s not shallow. It’s not (gasp) feminine. It’s not unimportant, just because it’s history, not murder.

Writing is about telling stories. And I like telling stories where nobody dies, and nobody steals anything, and People Do Okay, Sometimes.

I remember around the time of the 2016 election, I was inundated with a barrage of aggressively competing political realities. I was tired, angry, frustrated, vitriolic, and overwhelmed. I was working at a small local newspaper at the time, and I remember, before going to a protest that evening, I went out to a cul-de-sac in York County and interviewed an older man. The man was creating a festive yard display for Halloween/Thanksgiving, and he was holding a cook-out, and the neighborhood children always came to the yard to play in the haystack maze. He delivered, in a lengthy monologue, the entire history and strategy of design that went into his Festive Yard Display.

It was the best story I’d written in a long time.

It was the least interesting lead I was working on at the time- but, after talking to this man- it was, by far, the most important.

Why? Not because his yard display was an exceptional work of modern lawn decor. But because that guy was really, really stoked on it. And because what that guy represented- to me- was something I desperately needed to see, and something the world really needed to hear. Something we had all forgotten, but something that we all, deep down, understood.

The World Is Okay Sometimes
This is true. I can confirm. Things are, in fact, okay. And I would like to inform you that I have, tragically, grossly underestimated the significance of lifestyle reporting/storytelling- you’re helping people learn about how to be happy. You’re sharing their joys, their dreams, their frustrations, and their humanity. You are inherently invoking a creative product from your reader. You are playing with pathos- not implicitly, but by task.

You are telling a story about a lighthouse. But the story you’re telling is not about a lighthouse. It is about the valiant Coast Guard; the timeless onslaught of natural disaster and the perils of the sea; the advent of new technology and its familiar place in the human history of creative development; the unseen impact of budget cuts to National Parks; the Historical Monument you didn’t know was secretly employed with high-tech data equipment for coastal navigation; and, ultimately, why the past matters for the future- and why every story matters for the present.

Why? Because we’re chronicling our world. And it’s not just a world of murder and chaos- it’s a world of city marathons, theme park developments, new environmental technology, People Happy at the Zoo, and a historical lighthouse.

It’s the story of 2,018 Valentine’s Days- or maybe, even, of just one.

It’s the story of what matters to us, and what we choose to chronicle.

And for as much as an investigative piece gets my heart rate up a million miles a minute in fixation, sometimes, that story, just needs to be a day at the zoo.

Here’s what I did:

  • Wrote original stories from News Releases (& did original research to write stories) for HRScene.
  • Curated content from national affiliate stations, averaging 3-5 posts an hour.
  • Monitored and shared trending stories on Social News Desk.
  • Monitor social media content and update site resources accordingly.
  • Pick up trending national stories and share them in real time with appropriate SEO & attribution-appropriate/media copyright-compliant video and/or basic formatting.
  • Formatted local event calendars into shareable stories, and vice-versa, for HRScene.
  • Sometimes wrote police reports into stories.
  • Sometimes wrote News Releases about businesses or local programs into stories for WAVY.
  • Wrote more stories for HRScene.
  • Tried to learn things really fast.
  • On Thursdays, eat pastries.
  • Reconsider my decision to choose the department with a sedentary desk job.
  • Remember how happy I am.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat. The end.

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