Forum: Herald staff coached me on using my senses as reporter

Adding ‘color’ to reporting brings more life to writing; including taste-testing a milkshake.

Jacqueline Shaner (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jacqueline Shaner (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

By Jacqueline Shaner / Herald Forum

As I stepped outside my stuffy car into the hot July sun, I couldn’t help feeling excited as I looked at the skybridge ahead of me. Taking those first steps made me feel like all my hard work had paid off.

My mom always tells me, “Networking is the key to success.” I didn’t believe her until I spent almost four months connecting with former journalists, broadcasters and communications workers to land a job shadow opportunity at The Herald. As I began walking down the skybridge into the Herald office, I knew this would be an opportunity where the skills I learned would stay with me forever.

I had wanted to be a doctor for a good portion of my 16 years. I was not confident in my ability to become successful as a photojournalist, graphic designer, etc. Looking back, I did not want to pursue a medical profession because I loved science, it was simply how I would earn the most money.

This idea did not change until I joined yearbook my sophomore year. I was immediately sucked into the creativity that went into graphic design; the hours spent behind the scenes making page layouts. I continued to love my time spent in that class more as I learned to take photos of athletes capturing the moments that made the game most memorable. I was able to photograph the exact moment when the game winning goal was scored, or the look on a student’s face after they were named homecoming queen.

I didn’t become interested in journalism until later that year when I was tasked with writing a story for my schools’ online newspaper. My writing skills were and are not fantastic. I am still young and learning how to write features and news stories. I have learned tremendous amounts about what it takes to be a talented writer from the few stories I have written, and that is the main reason I wanted this internship so badly. I want to improve my writing skills and learn what it takes to make it in the competitive field of journalism.

I had no idea how amazing my three weeks would be the first day I met Mallory Gruben, one of The Herald’s reporters. I have worked with many different reporters and a photographer learning all about what it takes to write, design, and photograph. Eric Schucht, a website producer, gave me a PowerPoint presentation on my second day teaching me what makes news, and later he tasked me with writing a short story about a zombie apocalypse.

My fellow intern Ann Duan and I had to use the journalist term “color,” or the five senses, to help make our stories come alive. I worked with photographer Olivia Vanni at Everett Community College on a photo assignment, and she taught me camera basics that I had never learned before. I went to court with reporter Ellen Dennis and saw the first appearance of a man charged with attempted second degree murder. Reporter Andrea Brown took me to a few gas stations with her and taught me how to interview random people off the street. I even got to go get a shake with reporter Taylor Goebel to taste-test for a food story she was working on.

My passion for journalism has only grown with this experience and I plan to take the skills I learned here to college and beyond. The reporters at The Herald are incredible people and I enjoyed every minute I spent here and encourage other aspiring journalists to reach out, make connections and start pursuing your passion young.

Jacqueline Shaner will be a junior at Glacier Peak High School this fall.

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