Join the conversation on the news behind The Courier-News

Recently in journalism Category

katie.jpgI am now a MoJo.

As many of you know from previous posts, on Monday, Dec. 13, the longtime Courier-News building at 300 Lake Street closed with many of its operations relocated to Aurora.

Although my former office now stands vacant, your trusty Courier reporter Katie Anderson (and my co-workers) still are working right here in the community. Parked in local coffee shops, libraries and other common spaces with wifi access, we still are taking calls, investigating tips, covering government and writing articles on the Elgin area.

This move has come with challenges, but we intend to take them all in stride, and each reporter with the Courier is creating his and her own space to do mobile journalism.


IMG00001-20101212-0212.jpg

Katie's new home office


Since I live in Elgin (on the northeast side), I have made my new base inside my home. I also plan to work on articles using my laptop inside the coffee shop at the Gail Borden Library several days a week.


More about where you can find us MoJos out in the community, daily, after the jump

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgWe unearthed a lot of gems while packing up 300 Lake Street last week. But perhaps the gemmiest of all is this stunning piece of video journalism, by Courier alum Matt Baron.

It's an interview with current Courier reporter Dave Gathman, a 30-odd-year journalism veteran and inveterate note-taker. And it REALLY gets good around 1:40 when we learn about all those pens meticulously arranged in Gathman's pocket? There is a method to that pen madness!

Oh, please, let this go viral.



Everybody who works here is SO GREAT.


-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgThings get lost in a move: Spare change that slipped out of couch cushions or got pushed to the back of a drawer. Knick-knacks you didn't really like all that much anyway. That coffee mug I left soaking in the sink... shoot.

One thing we didn't want to get lost in the shuffle of our newsroom's recent move is the news of the move itself -- or our new phone numbers. That ran on page three of Sunday's Courier-News with the headline "Change of address won't affect commitment to Elgin, northern Fox Valley." Here it is again, from Sun-Times Media West Editorial Director Mike Cetera, in its entirety.


Thumbnail image for cetera.jpgThe Courier-News may be changing addresses, but our commitment to Elgin and the Fox Valley is unwavering.

Beginning Monday, advertising, the newsroom and other operations will be housed at Sun-Times Media's central facility in Aurora.

We hope the change is imperceptible to readers and advertisers. This move won't affect our deep roots and love for our hometown -- the city of Elgin -- and our commitment to serve other communities such as Hampshire, South Elgin, East and West Dundee and Carpentersville.


Our new phone numbers, more, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for katie.jpgLast Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending the
Northern Illinois Newspaper Association Fall Conference and awards dinner.

Highlights of the evening included a presentation by Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Nelson and accepting four NINA awards on behalf of The Courier-News.

(That's my smiling mug in the picture below.)


NINAS.jpg


This year The Courier-News earned honors including...

  • First place for column writing: Julia Doyle
  • Second place for headline writing: Julia Doyle
  • Third place for a religion story, a.k.a. the Owen Phelps Award: Katie Anderson (me)
  • Third place for sports column writing: Erik Jacobsen


Click the blue text for a full winners list, which includes accolades for reporters and photographers from our sister publications including The Beacon News in Aurora.

More about NINA and the keynote speaker after the jump.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for katie.jpgIt was a Tuesday in early May. I, along with several other reporters from competing news outlets, were lead into a meeting room in the Kane County State's Attorney's Office.

Once seated, we each were handed a single sheet of white typing paper with the following announcement printed on it: Kane County Coroner Charles West had been indicted on felony charges.

Every reporter's eyes immediately went down to scan the press release. After a quick skim, I whipped out my phone, opened the camera application and took a photograph of the press release. I then e-mailed the image to my editors and a fellow reporter who wrote up the news and posted it to The Courier-News website and its affiliates a full 45 minutes before any other news outlet uttered a word about the indictment.

It took me about two minutes in total to take the photograph, log in to my e-mail, attach the image and send the message with photo attached to my newsroom. While my phone did the work transmitting the news, I was free to ask questions and take part in the remainder of the press conference.

As a reporter, my cell phone is as indispensable to me as my notebook and pen. Using my phone, I call and text sources and send e-mails while I'm away from my desk. I even check Facebook and Twitter updates for news tips and scoops. With regards to my work however, the most useful part of my phone is quickly becoming the built-in camera.


More about how Katie uses her cameraphone, what others think of 'cameraphone journalism,' tips on how to take better phone photos, all after the jump!

Thumbnail image for katie.jpgWhether we like it or not, hyperlocal news websites are here, invading our coverage areas and hiring away our experienced co-workers. (By "our," I'm referring to traditional print media outlets, including The Courier-News and the Chicago Sun Times.)

And, further cementing their place in the news-purveying industry is recent movement by the Illinois Press Association to create a membership category for the hyperlocal dot-coms.

bocatwitterprofile.pngpatch.jpgFor those of you who are not media insiders, currently news websites like Patch (recently sprouted in Geneva, St. Charles and, yesterday, in Naperville) and Elgin's BocaJump float in a sort of limbo. They function as sort of mini newspapers with an online presence only. They report local happenings, publish police reports and cover some local government. They hire people with journalism degrees and sell ads, too.

The creators of these types of news websites say their pages will serve up community journalism with a heavy focus on feature stories and submitted content. Some claim to be "complementary rather than competition," when it comes to traditional print media. Others flat out seek to oust the journalists already in town.


What's the debate? What does this mean? After the jump.

NOTE: Carpentersville-based Community Unit School District 300 students headed back to school yesterday. But what did they do on their summer vacations? Well, Jessica Jordan of Hampshire High School shadowed Courier-News reporter Katie Anderson for a day.

Jessica shares what she learned about journalism and your hometown newspaper...


I was able to go and spend the day with Katie Anderson at The Courier-News building and follow her to see what a day as a journalist is like. It was a very good experience seeing what someone does. I was able to look into the career and see what type of work being a journalist is really about.

Being in high school is a challenge, and to really decide what sort of career path you want to go into is not easy. The opportunity to visit and work with people in different careers helps with making a decision and at least gives students a better idea of the career they are interested in.

First thing on the agenda for the day was to visit the court house. While there, we went to the court room and were able to listen to the police reports from the night before, also known as bond hearings. I found it interesting listening to the penalties the judge gives. It was an exciting environment to be in and to watch the way Katie took notes. Her notes had very few words and little about the person in trouble. It seems like you need to be able to remember a lot about the morning and be able to write it all later.


Was the Courier just like the newsrooms you see in movies? Find out, after the jump!

Thumbnail image for gloria.jpgThere's a list somewhere, now lost in my old computer, of all the people who've come and gone from The Courier-News newsroom over the last 10 years. Some retired. Some moved on to new jobs. Some have been laid off. The last count was something like 100.

I'll be adding my name to the list. Today is my last day at the Courier.

While I am very excited to move on to the next phase of my career, the Courier is a special place for me. It's been my home for more than 17 years.

It seems like this newspaper always has been a part of my life in some way. My parents have been reading the Courier for more than 40 years. I remember as a child coming to the newspaper for a tour of the building. Back then, you could get a tour of the newsroom, the distribution center and look down at the printing press. I met my husband at a Courier-News hangout one night after work with friends who got me to sing "The Devil Went Down To Georgia." It was my voice that won him over -- at least that's my version of the story. Last year, my friends here threw a baby shower welcoming my twins.


Read more of Gloria's memories of the Courier, share your memories of Gloria's work here, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for gloria.jpgNOTE: Reporter Gloria Carr wrote Wednesday's Courier-News cover story, Sick About It. In the article, she detailed the Kane County Board's decision Tuesday to cut 62 Health Department employees, move nine service programs and end two entirely. The board cited budget crisis.

Reflecting on the story and the people it affects, Gloria shares the following today...

(Pictured: Kane County Board member Bonnie Kunkel questions Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert Tuesday during the board meeting.)


Big news stories, like the Kane County Board's vote this week to turn over some of its social service programs to federally funded agencies and lay off 62 employees, tend to become hectic. The stories sometimes seem to run together as you try to cover different aspects of an issue.

img_EL081110_KANEHEALTH_P02_scn_feed_20100810_19_13_44_14014-282-400.jpgTo be honest, the Kane County Health Department issue was starting to get repetitious. The arguments were sounding all the same. The outcome was almost predictable.

Following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, I found myself thinking, "Let's get on with this vote."

Following that vote, there were a lot of things going on with reporters -- all trying to talk to everyone involved to get comments. I was among that group, trying to figure out who might comment, when I saw a young woman who I thought had been sitting with a group of people I was pretty sure were health department employees.


What changed Gloria's thinking, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for katie.jpgSome days, newsrooms are hectic. Reporters and photographers are busy covering scandals, accidents, fires and other breaking news. No one has a minute to spare, and there is no shortage of copy to fill the next day's paper. Ask any journalist -- it's stressful, but exciting!

JPEG_Happy_Writer.jpgThen there are slow days... Nothing is breaking, and the next city council and school board meetings are a week away.

When this happens, we dig into press release folders, sift again through old e-mails and even surf the Web for story ideas.

Yes, even I, self-proclaimed Never-ending Story Ideas Girl, have been caught on a Tuesday afternoon (newsroom staff meeting day) frantically checking craigslist for something to turn into a story.

You see, although creative, intelligent, modest and "tuned in" to the goings-on in our respective communities, at some point, all journalists need a story idea. When we find ourselves in need, we have a few options:


1. Rub our furrowed foreheads, squish back deep into our seats and chew our pen caps until the Story Idea Fairy drops a good one on us.

2. Panic.


More legit ideas and links, after the jump

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the journalism category.

Jason Duarte is the previous category.

Julia Doyle is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.