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Moving up in the public speaking world

By Staff | Oct 4, 2013

In the world of public speaking, I have apparently become much more of a hot commodity than I ever expected.

I wrote a few weeks ago how I was asked to come speak to to a fifth grade class at Little Flower Elementary School.

They were doing a news project and their teacher, Mrs. Julie Mosher, thought I could lend some insight as far as what qualifies as a story as being newsworthy.

It was a fun project, and it’s not over yet.

The class is still going to deliver some of their stories and art to the paper, where we’ll put together a page of their work and show them the editing and layout process.

But word of my eloquence and knowledge must have traveled because I’ve been invited to speak in front of another audience, shockingly enough.

I’ll be speaking to a journalism class at the University of North Dakota. The professor, Richard Aregood, was a man I met during my term working at the Grand Forks Herald.

When he lived in Philadelphia, Richard won a Pulitzer Prize as the editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Newark Star-Ledger, which leads to the question every journalist would ask: What in the flamin’ hootie is Richard Aregood thinking?

The class is about community journalism, which may start to answer that question.

So I will explain to the class what I do here and how it’s different than what editors or reporters do at the Grand Forks Herald, the Cleveland Plain Dealer or the New York Times for that matter.

At some level, every newspaper focuses on community journalism. Even the largest papers have sections that focus on local events, community issues, and advocates for improvements, policies or changes that affect the readership.

Really the only major difference is the level that requires something to be newsworthy.

In New York, they’d report about gang kingpins and mobsters, but a string of home break-ins wouldn’t qualify for news.

In a small community like Rugby, it certainly would.

Every paper writes about education. At the New York Times, they may investigate student loan issues nationally. At the Grand Forks Herald, they have been writing a lot about the budgeting at the Grand Forks Public Schools. In Rugby, we may be have a story and a picture on a class trip or project.

In essence, every paper deals with issues under the same heading, but on a different level.

As a journalist, it’s a lot of fun and a great motivator to be in the middle of a big story. I covered a few as my time as a news reporter.

But there’s also value in giving people information that will get them to church on time or explain the best way to winterize their garden.

Hopefully, I can come up with some examples or anecdotes of how newspapers are different, or how community journalism is more important the smaller the community.

If nothing else, maybe I’ll tell some crazy stories about my college days.

Fortunately, I didn’t end up in the newspaper for any of them.

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