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New year comes with new story count

Posted on December 31, 2014 by Taber Times

By J.W. Schnarr
Taber Times

It’s the end of the year, and at the end of the year I do what I always do, and have done since I began my journalism career almost four years ago. I counted up my stories and photos for the year and looked back at how I’ve grown as a reporter, and possibly identify ways I can continue to work on in the new year.

Some people take inventory at the end of the year. This is my inventory, I guess. It’s something I picked up from my last editor up in Claresholm, a meticulous record keeper who could tell you the name and date of every story he’s ever published in a newspaper. I keep track of the stories too, only I’m less of a list maker and more of a “file ‘em and forget ‘em” kinda guy.

I was interested in seeing how many stories I pumped out for the Times and Advance this year, because I didn’t have council beats at my last posting and instead focused on spot news, features, and giving the government their comeuppence. I cover a handful of beats here in Taber, with M.D. council, Vauxhall council, and Horizon School Board under my watch. I also added Barnwell this year, making me the unofficial out-of-town news guy for the Times, I guess.

The other thing that eats into a lot of my work week is managing the Times online presence, but since those stories are mainly ones gleaned from the print edition of the paper, I didn’t bother to count any of it in my list. M.D. and school board stories go in both papers, but were only counted once.

Last year, I remember the number to be in the high 500s, but I haven’t been able to track down the exact number and never bothered to write it down anywhere substantial. “File ‘em, and forget ‘em,” indeed.

This year, counting stories for both papers, and including the seven HSD stories and one MD council story I wrote today (It’s Monday, Dec. 29 as I write this – wooo! Time Travel!), my final tally for the year was 583 stories (including this column) for the Times with 305 photos, and 228 stories for the Advance with 132 photos. Add in 39 stories and seven photos for the various special sections these papers put out during the year.

The total of all this number crunching came to 850 stories and 444 photos. This includes every photo and story I filed for the paper, of which about 98 per cent of them were used.
Our editor, Greg Price, is very good about making sure stuff you go out to cover ends up in the paper.

I didn’t start at the Times until the second week, so we can divide those stories by 50 weeks and come up with a pretty solid output for the year: 17 stories and 8.9 photos per week.
So what have I learned about Taber, Vauxhall, and Barnwell in 850 stories?

Well, I’ve learned that Taber residents have big dreams of what their town really could be. I’ve learned that M.D. residents worry about roads and water more than just about anything else. And I’ve learned that Vauxhall is a town that would really love to see some more police coverage. Especially at night.

I’ve learned that the Horizon School Division is more varied and multicultural than I would have ever expected before coming here. And I’ve learned that things are pretty quiet in Barnwell – just the way they like it.

And for the outlying areas of coverage, places like Grassy Lake, Enchant, and Hays, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to come out and see you more often.

So one thing I guess I can add to my list of “things to work on for 2015” would be making that drive out to Enchant and Hays a few more times, and shooting down the highway to Grassy Lake just to see what’s going on.

Because man, you people in the coverage region are a busy lot!

Oh, and incase I haven’t said it to you in person, Happy Holidays. Looking forward to seeing you all in 2015.

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