Thursday, 31 May 2007

Chatham memories

It was the summer of 1963. Robert Turnbull, city editor of the Globe and Mail enjoyed reading this copy boy's solicited inter-office comments about proposed crosswalks for Toronto.

"I think you have a future as a reporter," Robert said in a memo.

One letter to one man and it was off to the Chatham Daily News as a very green, 21-year-old cub reporter to work 16-hour days for $27.50 a week.

It was the first of 10 newspaper jobs and like most firsts, it was an awkward, fumbling experience, but most memorable for its aftermath - a 30-year career in newsrooms, including 19 eventful years at the Toronto Sun.

All with undying gratitude to the late Robert Turnbull.

This "first" came to mind while reading an online Osprey help wanted posting for a general reporter at the Chatham Daily News.

"The Chatham Daily News has an immediate opening for a reporter for its award-winning newsroom. The candidate must be prepared to cover a wide range of assignments on a busy schedule that will include night and weekend work.

"As a key member of the editorial team, the successful candidate will be responsible for daily news reporting, feature and enterprise reporting, as well as some photography work. You will also be responsible for generating a portion of your own assignments, especially from within your beat.

"The position requires the ability to take direction and work well within a team atmosphere as well as work independently and develop assignments.

"Organization and an attention to detail are vital.

"Knowledge of digital photography and word processing are essential.

"A vehicle, valid driver's license and a willingness to relocate to Chatham-Kent are also essential."

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the successful applicant will be working 16 hours a day on a variety of two-way assignments, but hopefully will be paid more than the $27.50 a week Thomson paid in 1963.

If you are looking for a starting point, small dailies remain an invaluable basic training ground for journalists. Put all of your energy and heart into the job and if you have what it takes, good things will follow.

While Ryerson and other journalism schools teach you the basics, starting in the trenches from scratch can be the experience of a lifetime.

BTW: The deadline for the Chatham Daily News job is June 8.

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