Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And miles to go before I sleep

The following was submitted by The View staff reporter Jerry LaVaute:

Some days just seem to go on forever.

This job as a reporter is very different from the daily rhythms of my 31-year career at Ford.

There, I would arrive at the office about 8 a.m., and leave most days by 6 p.m.

I emphasize most days because my work schedule at Ford could vary dramatically, depending on the time of month or year, or the need to prepare for meetings with Ford senior management, voracious for all things data, particularly financial data.

When I retired, I saved the hard copy of my calendar on my last day at Ford – Jan. 20, 2009.

There were about eight meetings on my calendar for that day, about half of which I attended.

And my open assignments, which I also wrote on my calendar? There were over 20 of those.

Prioritizing and re-prioritizing assignments was a daily, and sometimes an hourly necessity. The to-do list that you prepared in your head during the morning commute was often ancient history by mid-morning – the only constant, it seemed, was change.

Working for the newspaper is very different. I start a little later each day, on average, but I sometimes end the day much later. On a recent Monday, I ended my workday at around 9 p.m., and the following night I worked past 11 p.m.

I work more on weekends, most often covering events scheduled for Saturday – morning, afternoon or evening.

There is travel, with potentially unproductive time in between appointments or assignments, which needs to be filled with productive work, including people to interview, meetings to attend, events to cover – and writing.

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, I had an interview with a guidance counselor at Belleville High School at 9:30 in the morning. We were developing a story on teen pregnancy, and she was very helpful.

After the interview, I went to the Belleville library and got some work done, using my new netbook computer. What a helpful addition that is – it allows me to be mobile, and still get my work done. If I’m in an area where I can receive a cell phone call, I have access to the Internet.

I left the library shortly before Noon, for another interview with a teacher at Haggerty School.

I returned again to the library, and left again for an interview at 3:15 p.m. with Todd Knepper, who recently resigned his post as Director of Public Works for Van Buren Township.

I have enjoyed working with Todd for the last couple years, and wanted to chat with him before he left for his new job.

At 4 p.m., the VBT work -study meeting began, and lasted till a bit a after 5 p.m.

I headed out and drove to the city of Milan to attend a 6:30 p.m. city council work- study meeting, where the mayor and the council members discussed their upcoming budget.

At around 7:45, they began their regular meeting, which I also covered for the newspaper. I think I got home to the Belleville area around 9 p.m.

Early the next morning, I wrote a story about the council meeting in Milan, added it to our website, and sent it to my editor for publication in the newspaper.

At 11 a.m., I left again for Milan, this time for an interview with a teacher at Milan High School for the story on teen pregnancy.

Back in Belleville, I had a 2:30 p.m. interview with a teacher at Edgemont for a story on Flat Stanley, a character in a series of children’s books. After the interview, I went home for a bit.

At 7 p.m., I rousted myself from my easy chair and traveled to the VBT Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. That lasted almost four hours, and I arrived home at 11:30 p.m.

The following day, I wrote a couple stories about the previous night’s meeting, and submitted them to my editor for publication the following day in the newspaper.

The rest of the day was spent writing, with a visit to the vet for my dog Maisie interrupting my work.

The following day, newspaper publication day, I went to my office and worked till about 2 p.m., when I left for an annual physical with my doctor in Canton.

I stayed in Canton, again visiting the library there with my computer, and wrote a bit more until a budget meeting at 7 p.m. at my church in Canton.

It was a busy week, punctuated by appointments, listening, making notes, taking photos, filming videos, travel, asking questions, and the story-writing process, that often follows some set patterns, but each story unfolds in its own unique way – part of the reason that I like this job.

Gerald LaVaute is a staff writer for Heritage Newspapers. He can be reached at or call 1-734-429-7380. Check out our staff blog at

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hello World

Hello readers, my name is Kevin Doby and I am the new staff writer for the Saline Reporter and the Milan News/Leader. I am a recent college graduate, having earned my Journalism B.A. from Western Michigan University at the end of August. While there, I covered University events and Kalamazoo community news for the student paper, the Western Herald.

I have actually been working for Heritage for the past couple of months in multiple capacities, starting in the middle of January. I covered local news in Chelsea and Dexter for a couple weeks followed by another couple of weeks doing news for Ypsilanti and Bellville. Most recently I have spent the last couple of months covering sports for Saline and Milan so if you've been keeping up with the Sports hopefully my name is not totally unfamiliar to you. I am excited to start this new job and stay in these two beautiful communities for the long haul. Going to sporting events and talking to parents/teachers/coaches, I have had nothing but positive experiences and I hope to add to those very soon.

Outside of the newsroom I am interested in sports (Go Lions!), music and am an absolute film buff. I attended high school at Okemos High School outside of Lansing and while there I participated in varsity football, baseball and track. I also spent the summer after my junior year of college living Traverse City working as an archival assistant on the Michael Moore movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" which was interesting in several aspects.

If anybody out there in cyberspace has any ideas for things you would like to see covered in the paper, I would love to hear to hear from you all. I can be reached in multiple ways: please feel free to comment on these blog posts which I will be posting at least once a week, maybe more. I can also be reached through email at and I also love food too, so if anyone has any story ideas that include this young writer stuffing his face that would be great.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Counting my blessings

I often envy others who live in southern Caifornia, or down south in Florida, or in places nearer the ocean.

But as many are suffering in Japan and perhaps across the Pacific, I often count my blessings as a resident of the industrial midwest, here in southeastern Michigan.

I said to my wife Jan this morning that I was prepared to take a couple inches of snow, as I began to hear the news of the earthquake in Japan.

We're generally very fortunate here regarding the weather. About 50 inches of snow each year, meted out in managegeable amounts.

We get periods in spring and summer that are delightful, and our fall days - football weather - can be enchanting.

Few tornadoes, fewer earthquakes, no tsunamis. I remember years ago reading an April Fool's day story in the Free Press about recently-discovered freshwater sharks in the Lake of Michigan. A photo accompanied the story, as a menacing fin sliced through the water just behind a water skier being pulled by a boat.

We can laugh, because it's so absurd. No sharks here, right?

As I count my blessings, I pray for those who have been injured, or worse, by a horrific disaster.
I'll join my fellow parishioners in communal prayer at St. Thomas a' Becket in Canton this weekend, and dig a little deeper into my wallet to provide some financial assistance.

Because I know from past experience that we will respond to the call.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's hard not to look

Just five minutes into the video, I had to stop watching. The incoherent ramblings not making any sense at all, it was all too familiar. In the meantime, the Twitter monitor on the side of my screen kept ticking along, brimming with comments as more and more people chimed in.

Yes, I was watching Charlie Sheen’s new online video show called “Sheen’s Korner.” I had to. Sure, it was like watching a train wreck but I couldn’t help it. He was ranting about the various executives at CBS who all played a role in firing him from “Two and a Half Men.” I could only watch for a few minutes and then I had this feeling come over me.


I felt guilty for watching it. It became sad to me, watching a man who is clearly disturbed, ranting and raving while, in the meantime, is being cheered on by millions of followers and unfortunately, people like me who watch his shows. I compare it to a party in college. You know this kid shouldn’t do another keg stand because he is clearly wasted, but you watch. Only to see him fall.

While Sheen is clearly above college age, his situation is obviously much more serious. He’s been dealing with substance abuse issues for years. By no means am I educated in the field of substance abuse or psychology, but I can tell you one thing. He’s on the fast track and derailment is in the near future. In the words of one of my favorite Eagles’ songs “Life in the fast lane, sure to make you lose your mind.”

I’m wondering if I’m the only one who feels ashamed when I watch or read about TV or movie stars who are clearly heading for disaster? I know, it’s hard to not to, but what if we all just stopped? Easier said than done, I guess.

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]