“Afternoon With an Up-and-Comer”

For my sojourn with a journalist I chose to walk about 200 feet adjacent from my residence at the Howard Johnson Hotel to check out The Times building across the way. I’ve walked past the building nearly every day since I’ve been in Florida and can even see its green glow at night from my room.  At a size smaller than that of other Tampa architecture, the neon green lighting emitting “The Times” may just be visible from some areas on campus.   However, up close this solid concrete square rests in its own serene pocket land on the outskirts of the other grander skyscrapers.

I walked through the parking lot to the main doors.  I had no idea if I would be told to take a hike or if I would get some real talk time with a working journalist.   I was greeted and explained my situation and that I would only need a little bit of a staff member’s time to complete my journalism project.  Luckily, intern/voultunteer/beginning journalist Nicholas Scott Schmidt was nearby and overheard my situation.  He explained that he wasn’t too busy and could help me out.  Naturally I accepted, figured in my mind that it would be interesting to get the scoop from a near full-fledged journalist, and also one that was less than 10 years older than me.

I had the rest of the afternoon free before my 4 o’clock class would start and was able to spend some time chatting with Nicholas.  He was very friendly and had a natural likability.  It was easy to see the passion in his eyes as he began to explain his situation.  He said reluctantly that he would be “leaving Florida in the summer to go to New York City .”  Told me it would be an easier place to acquire a job and was close to his hometown of Rochester.

Nicholas told me it was a “relatively quite day around the office” which he said was unsurprising.  He explained this would most likely remain status-quo for the rest of the day as stories unfold at any given minute and so most journalists find themselves out in the field mainly rather than at the desk computer.  He gave me a brief tour of the building and the essential areas of operation within.  The vast array of folders, binders, computers and the seemingly endless stacks of paper, especially in the archive area (a room designated for past issues of newspaper).  Afterward he brought me to various spots where cubicles were stationed correlating with certain areas of journalistic criteria and introduced me to a few people.

He then asked me if there was anything else specific I wanted to see or do.  Since on this particular day the journalism profession appeared to be well at work and he was after all not “full-fledged” just yet.  I asked him what his activities and others would consist of on a day with a scarce amount of work to be done.  He laughed and gave out a “hmm…well.”   He basically stated that usually you’ll know when arriving to work if it’s going to be a fast, slow, or medium paced day but that can all change in the blink of an eye.  Nicholas said for him, “I’ve seen some very droll days here when nothing newsworthy is happening, though it is rare, and after all I’m not here every single day.”

What I seemed to learn, or rather now understand more clearly is this.  Things do happen every day, a generic statement indeed. But it is these ‘things’ that consist of incidents, victories, tragedies, stories of sadness or hope and a whole slew of other variations that are interwoven within daily life.  The key to being a adept journalist is to delve lightly into all of these constantly occurring events and obtain a general knowledge.  Then choose, dive head first into the selected subject matter and alas,  the topics that pique your interest will pique your ability to write well and render enjoyment within your profession.  But never forget that with being a journalist comes spontaneous responsibilities, abrupt elements of the job can present themselves at any hour of any day of any month of any given year.

After spending some time in The Times Building I understand the journalism world a little better.  It does seem a little more interesting and I especially took notice to the fact that a lot of time spent is out and about rather than at a cubicle.  Writing is a passion of mine and whether it be fiction or even journalistic non-fiction, I now believe I could enjoy doing either or.

By: Robert A. Serio

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