Job Shadow: The Chippewa Herald

By Zachary Reed    

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Parker Reed sits at his new desk.   ©2018 Zachary Reed

The Chippewa Herald is a small town newspaper with a long history in the Chippewa Valley. Parker Reed, the most recent addition to the newspaper, began writing there on Sept. 4th as the community reporter. Reed graduated from UW-Eau Claire  in spring 2018 after an immersive four years at the university. His positive experiences there provided him with the knowledge and tools needed for a comfortable transition into full time reporting.

Reed graduated from Eau Claire North High School in spring 2014, and immediately pursued a journalism major at UW-Eau Claire the following fall. He worked for Blugold Radio Sunday and TV-10, and eventually became the Vice President of Print for the Society of Professional Journalists. He also started working as the Sports Editor of The Spectator during his junior year. Blugold Radio Sunday was his preferred platform at the university.

Flexibility is an important trait for a journalist, Reed told me, and he exercised this when accepting the position at The Chippewa Herald. He said there weren’t many radio positions in the area, so he was flexible enough to take an opportunity writing stories. Being able to work the trifecta of television, radio and newspaper is great job security. His time spent writing for The Spectator certainly prepared him for this position.

A typical morning at The Herald starts with checking the phone and email for any contact from sources. Along with regular story assignments, Reed also works on the paper’s community calendar. He writes a weekly pet profile for the Humane Association, which usually helps the animal get adopted much quicker. After he finishes his assignments, he has more freedom to develop stories on his own.

While shadowing Reed, I saw him research and plan for future stories, answer emails, and provide a fellow reporter with some sources. He also interviewed a man over the phone, and went down to nearly completed Riverfront Park in Chippewa Falls to shoot a picture for the front page.

Reed said doing work ahead of time is important to making deadline and streamlining the process. Conducting interviews early if possible is also beneficial. Cultivating and maintaining sources is another journalistic method Reed discussed using. Other regular tasks he has at The Herald include attending city hall meetings and researching information for stories.

I was impressed with Reed’s communication skills and his comfort in his new position. Reed confirmed that the practical experience he had in the Journalism program prepared him well.

“Trial by fire really worked to just see how news is collected every day and how to operate in a professional environment,” Reed said. This underlines the importance of practicing journalistic skills, in and out of class. Having a wealth of experience in all three subfields of journalism undoubtedly contributed to Reed’s success. Every journalism student should strive for a similarly engaging academic career.

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