Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jake Leber: Senior Project Blog

My name is Jake Leber, and I'm a senior at Mentor High School who is looking forward to graduation on June 4th! I have always held an interest in journalism, which is why I decided to shadow Bill Tilton here at The News-Herald for my senior project. Not surprisingly, I met Bill through high school sports, as I was the announcer of the Mentor High School football home games for the Mentor TV channel. Bill and I were lucky enough to be able to watch the games from inside the cozy press box on those cold fall nights, and therefore I got to talk to him often. I knew shadowing Bill would be a perfect fit, because his job consists of two of my main interests, sports and journalism. I started last week, fresh off my last day of school.
So far, the weather has severely deterred the extent of coverage for Bill, because high school baseball can not take place when its pouring torrential rain almost every day (I'm going to college at the University of Georgia. Needless to say, escaping the weather was one of my major reasons for heading to the South.) However, we have been able to attend some games, and I've also been able to observe what its like to be a newspaper journalist. An immediate thing I noticed is how different a journalist's schedule is compared to most professions. Instead of a 9 to 5 desk job, reporters are constantly on the move and very rarely at their desks. I'm the type of guy that always likes to have something to do, so already I can tell that this profession might suit me well. Bill almost works 2nd shift, mostly because high school sports do not start until the afternoon anyways. This is another part of the job that pleases me, because I'm a night owl, and any job that starts in the afternoon and allows me to sleep past 10 sounds good to me. The major appeal of reporting to me is the ability to be creative. During high school, I would much rather write an English paper than solve a calculus equation because you get to follow your own rules when working, not somebody else's. There is no equation on how to write a story. Journalism has really appealed to me so far because of the constant movement, later schedules, and creative freedom it brings.
We did eventually get to cover a few games last week, with the first being an absolute weather disaster. On Wednesday, May 18th, we trekked out to Hawken School to see a playoff matchup between Hawken and Chagrin Falls (strangely enough....Hawken was the away team on their own field. Who knew?) Hawken's field is Astroturf, so they decided to play the game, even in the pouring rain. Luckily, we had a tent to stand under. Not sit, stand. The bleachers were completely soaked, so we were forced to stand in the mud for the entire game. After a 30 minute rain delay and extra innings, the game was postponed due to darkness. What a perfect ending. I don't want to sound like a Negative Ned, but the first game showed me some of the negative sides of being a journalist. When you're in this field, things are constantly changing, which means you often have to adjust. If I become a reporter, I'm going to have to get better at adapting to changing situations.
Thankfully, there was bright sunshine and blue skies for Thursday's games down in Euclid. The Division IV match-ups included Fairport v. Maplewood and Ledgemont v. Cuyahoga Heights. I spent most of the time keeping score and watching for interesting trends or oddities throughout the game that could be included into the final story. Overall, everything went much, much better than Wednesday. If anything, these first two days showed me how back-and-forth a journalist's job can be. But, for me, variety is the spice of life, and back-and-forth is much better than monotony. Every day I shadow Bill, I become more and more convinced that journalism is the right field for me.
I'm now into week two of senior project, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. All of the games have been rained out this week, but I've still found things to do with Bill. Like this blog, for instance! I look forward to the last week of senior project, and, hopefully, the baseball games that I will be covering.


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