Tell us Your Story: David Hawley

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David Hawley’s journalism career included stints at The Associated Press and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The Minnesota pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists salutes former journalists who have moved on to new adventures.  In this ongoing series, we invite newsies to reflect on their time in the news business.  Our latest entry is from retired St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter David Hawley.

I never took a journalism class, never worked for a school newspaper, and I wasn’t an avid follower of the news.  But I happened to walk into the office of a small-town newspaper publisher on the morning he decided that the next guy through the door was going to get a job.  So a lifetime career as a newsman was launched.

Some crusty ink-stained veteran once said there were only two things you needed if you wanted to become a newspaper reporter: You needed to know how to type and you needed a job at a newspaper.

During my career I successfully applied for jobs at two newspapers and at The Associated Press.  Each job interview lasted about 10 minutes.  During one interview, the newspaper’s managing editor, a florid-faced Irishman, asked me if I’d ever gotten drunk with one of my previous bosses.  I said I had.  “Did you do it more than once?” he asked, and I admitted I had.  He paused for a moment, then asked, “Can you start work next week?”

Times have changed.  Qualifications and interviews have become much more intense and newsrooms have gotten much drier.  What once was called a trade is now considered a profession.  Whether the quality has improved is a subject of debate.  After all, the old ways were always better, except when they weren’t.

I’ve been “retired” from the newspaper business for a decade after walking out the door with a buyout instead of being pushed out in a round of downsizing.  And I miss being part of what one of my friends called “a refuge for creative underachievers.”

I also miss being an anointed expert.  For instance, after the first week on my first job, I was told I would be expected to write one editorial a week.  My qualification: I worked on Saturdays and the Saturday reporter had to write an editorial for the following Monday.  I also had to write a column called “About Education,” which dealt with leading educational topics.  My qualification: The newest reporter always covered education.  At The Associated Press, I was assigned to write a weekly state-wide column on agriculture.  My qualification: I had previously worked for a small-town paper in farm country and therefore was the closest person they had to husbandry.

At my second and final newspaper job, I applied to become the paper’s classical music and theater critic, thinking my college degree in music and my short experience as a failed actor might be put to some use.  But the editor who gave me the job said my education and experience didn’t matter.  Instead, he figured I could file a coherent review under late-night deadline pressure because of my experience at the AP.

Some years later, after I’d gone back to being a mere reporter, an editor said he wanted me to write a column on legal gambling — giving advice to gamblers.  Though I’d never gone to a casino, I was anointed an expert, with a weekly column titled “You Betcha.”  After a year hanging out in casinos, I wrote a book on the subject.

All these experiences involved on-the-job training, though the person doing the training was me.  And that, for me, was the allure of being a newsman — the chance to be curious, to talk to perfect strangers, to find out stuff and tell the world about it.

And to be paid to do it.

On the first day of my first job, one of the old hands in the newsroom watched me stare forlornly at my typewriter (back then we used those things) as I tried to figure out how to make a scintillating story out of my first interview with the new head of the local Chamber of Commerce.  The old hand took me out for a cup of coffee and gave me a piece of advice.  “If you can tell a story, you can do this job,” he said.

He was right.  You’ve just read one.

David Hawley worked as a reporter for the Worthington Daily Globe, The Associated Press and the St. Paul Pioneer Press during a 35-year career.

Journalism students: Apply for a $2,500 scholarship

Attention college journalists: The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is now accepting applications for its 2017 student scholarship. This year, MNSPJ will award one $2,500 scholarship to a student pursuing a career in broadcast, print or visual journalism.

Applicants must either be enrolled in a post-secondary institution in Minnesota or have graduated from a high school in Minnesota and be enrolled in college elsewhere. Preference will be given to Society of Professional Journalists members.

Click here to submit an application form –- the first step. Email the additional application materials to minnesota.spj@gmail.com. Here’s what’s required:

Application form, which can be found here
Resume
College transcript
Letter of recommendation
Essay (limited to 500 words): Why have you chosen journalism as a career?
Up to six samples of work via a link to your portfolio, a PDF of clips or story URLs

Applications must be received by March 31, 2017. No late submissions will be accepted. The scholarship winner will be announced in April and will receive the award at MNSPJ’s annual Page One Awards banquet.

Questions? Email minnesota.spj@gmail.com.

PAGE ONE AWARDS DEADLINE: FRIDAY 2/24!

The Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MN SPJ) recognizes the best in Minnesota journalism each year with its annual Page One Awards.

A few changes have been made to the awards this year — including exciting new categories that were much requested by Minnesota journalists. The new categories are:

  1. A special award for Best Beat Reporting, open to a reporter in any medium who works a beat and can demonstrate why her reporting stands above the rest.
  2. Two new categories for newspaper reporting: Best Arts Criticism/Review and Best Meeting/Planned News Event feature.
  3. A new category for Television: Best Meeting/Planned News Event feature
  4. A new category for Radio: Best Meeting/Planned News Event feature
  5. Two new categories for Online: Best Arts Criticism/Review and Best Meeting/Planned News Event feature.

In addition to these new categories, Minnesota SPJ has instituted a small price increase for this year’s Page One Awards, raising the prices from $20 per entry to $22 per entry. This price increase is a direct result of declining support for MNSPJ’s silent auction, which funds student scholarships. In order to continue to offer student scholarships, MNSPJ has instituted this small price increase to replenish the scholarship fund.

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Journalists working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter. All work published or broadcast during the 2016 calendar year is eligible. Entries must be submitted by Friday, February 24. The fee is $22 per entry.

Contest winners will be honored at MN SPJ’s Page One Banquet, an annual spring event celebrating excellence in Minnesota journalism. The date and location for the banquet will be announced later.

Important Links:

Please contact MN SPJ with any questionsminnesota.spj@gmail.com

2017 PAGE ONE AWARDS: CONTEST GUIDELINES

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  • The fee is $22 per entry.
  • Entries must be submitted no later than Friday, February 24, 2017.
  • All work published or broadcast during the 2016 calendar year is eligible.
  • Journalists (including freelancers and contract employees) working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter.
  • An individual may submit only one entry per category. Exceptions: 1) if a second entry is a multiple-byline entry; or 2) if it is submitted by his/her employer because they could not agree on a single entry.
  • Entries will be judged by journalism professionals outside Minnesota.
  • Judges may move an entry from one category to another.
  • Up to three winners may be chosen for each category. Judges may choose not to name a winner in any category.
  • Entries will not be returned.
  • Awards Presentation: Winners will be announced in the spring of 2017 and honored during MN SPJ’s annual Page One Awards Banquet. Date and location, TBD.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

  • NEWSPAPER, ONLINE & PHOTOGRAPHY ENTRIES must be submitted online.
  • FOR PRINT ENTRIES (Newspaper and Magazine): Entrants should submit a link to the online article or a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the story appeared. The date of publication should be visible.
  • FOR NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE “BEST ISSUE” CATEGORIES: entries may be submitted by mail. TWO COPIES of each issue must be submitted in an 8 1/2-by-11-inch folder or envelope. Please write category name on outside of folder.
  • FOR GRAPHICS/PHOTOGRAPHY CATEGORIES: Entrants should submit a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the art appeared, or a link to the art published on an online news site. The date of publication should be visible.
  • FOR TV ENTRIES: Entrants should submit a URL where video can be viewed (preferred) or entries may be submitted on a DVD (please include TWO COPIES).
  • FOR RADIO ENTRIES: Entrants should submit a link to the work online (preferred) or entries may be submitted by mail on a CD (please include TWO COPIES).

CLICK HERE to access the contest submission form

 

2017 PAGE ONE AWARDS: CONTEST CATEGORIES

1. NEWSPAPER

a. Spot News (One or more stories covering a single spot news event)

b. Meeting/Planned news event (One or more stories covering a single news event that was known in advance.)

c. Feature (A single feature story)

d. Enterprise/In-Depth (One or more stories on a single topic or news event that reflects reporter’s ingenuity, use of sources or special research that help the reader understand a situation beyond information provided in a typical news story)

e. Investigative (One or more stories a single topic or news event containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

f. Business Story (A single news story or feature focusing on business-related news)

g. Sports Story (A single news story or feature focusing on sports-related news)

h. Arts & Entertainment Story (A single news story or feature focusing on arts & entertainment-related news)

i. Arts Criticism/Review (A single story reviewing an arts performance, musical group, restaurant or other similar entity/event)

j. Column (A single column written for any section including but not limited to general interest, business or sports)

k. Editorial (A single editorial)

l. Graphics/Art and illustration (Original artwork, graphs, diagrams, maps or other visual elements that illustrate a story)

m. Page Design (A single page design: taking into account layout and page composition, use of headlines, art, graphics etc.)

n. Headlines (A collection of up to three (3) headlines, submitted along with the accompanying stories)

o. Best issue (Based on reporting, writing, photography, graphics/illustration, layout, copyhandling, etc.)

2. MAGAZINE

a. Best Profile Story (A single profile story)

b. Best Feature Story (A single feature story)

c. Best Department (A magazine component appearing under the same heading and possibly, but not always, written by different writers); send 3 unique examples

d. Best Column (A magazine component appearing under the same heading and always written by the same author); send 3 unique examples

e. Best Cover (A single magazine cover)

f. Best Page Design (A full story or feature layout, single page, two-page or double-truck design)

g. Graphics/Art and illustration (Original artwork, graphs, diagrams, maps or other visual elements that illustrate a story)

h. Best issue (Based on writing, photography, graphics/illustration, layout)

3. TELEVISION

a. Spot/Breaking news (coverage of an unscheduled event broadcast within 24 hours; may be a single story or compilation of coverage on a single event)

b. Hard News report (best coverage of a news-related topic; may include in-depth, planned coverage of a single event, or enterprise reporting)

c. Feature (single story done for some other factor than timeliness–may include profile, human interest, or trend stories)

d. Special Project/In-Depth series (a single report or series of reports going in-depth on a particular subject, helping the viewer understand a situation beyond information in a typical news story)

e. Investigative (One or more stories containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

f. Newscast (One regularly-scheduled newscast airing on any day in the contest year. The entry should represent the station’s best work in news content, execution, and overall presentation)

g. Meeting/Planned Event feature (One or more stories covering a single news event that was known in advance.)

4. RADIO

a. Spot/Breaking news (coverage of an unscheduled event broadcast within 24 hours; may be a single story or compilation of coverage on a single event)

b. Hard News report (best coverage of a news-related topic; may include in-depth, planned coverage of a single event, or enterprise reporting)

c. Feature (single story done for some other factor than timeliness–may include profile, human interest, or trend stories)

d. Special Project/In-Depth series (a single report or series of reports going in-depth on a particular subject, helping the viewer understand a situation beyond information in a typical news story)

e. Investigative (One or more stories containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

f. Newscast (One regularly-scheduled newscast airing on any day in the contest year. The entry should represent the station’s best work in news content, execution, and overall presentation)

g. Meeting/Planned Event feature (One or more stories covering a single news event that was known in advance.)

5. ONLINE

a. Best Website (Best use of a website for providing news to an online audience. Judges will look at areas such as ease of navigation, creative design concepts, good organization and degree to which online resources enhance reporting.)

b. Best single news story (Best online coverage of a single news story or event)

c. Best continuing coverage (Two or more online reports demonstrating ongoing coverage of a news event; including original or web-only content)

d. Arts & Entertainment. (Single arts and entertainment-themed feature)

e. Arts Criticism/Review (A single story reviewing an arts performance, musical group, restaurant or other similar entity/event)

f. Best use of multimedia (Demonstrates outstanding use of photos, galleries, video, and/or audio to enhance original story)

g. Best social media account – Individual (For a social media account on any platform run by one journalist that best demonstrates an understanding of audience, an appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, while showing a commitment to innovation and an adherence to SPJ’s Code of Ethics)

h. Best social media account – Institutional (For a social media account run by multiple journalists that best demonstrates an understanding of audience, an appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, while showing a commitment to innovation and an adherence to SPJ’s Code of Ethics)

i. Best news video (Single video, or series of videos on the same subject, produced to appear online-only)

j. Best newsroom blog (submit URL for blog, judged on overall excellence in news coverage, affiliated with a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station)

k. Best independent news blog (submit URL for blog, judged on overall excellence in news coverage, not affiliated with a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station)

l. Meeting/Planned Event Feature (One or more stories covering a single news event that was known in advance.)

6. PHOTOGRAPHY

a. Best News Photography (Best use of photography in news stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) news photos.)

b. Best Feature Photography (Best use of photography in feature stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) feature photos.)

c. Best Portrait Photography (Best use of portrait photography. Submit a collection of up to three (3) portrait photos.)

d. Best Sports Photography (Best use of photography in sports stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) sports photos.)

7. SPECIAL AWARDS

a. Young Journalist of the Year (Award given to outstanding journalist in any medium with less than 10 years experience; submit three examples of work and letter of nomination)

b. Journalist of the Year (Award given to outstanding journalist in any medium with 10 or more years of experience; submit three examples of work and letter of nomination)

c. Story of the Year (Award for general excellence in any medium, covering a single story or news event submit up to three examples of work and letter of nomination)

d. Best Use of Public Records (Award for excellence in any medium covering a single story or news event where use of public records played a role in getting and telling the story; submit three examples of work and narrative letter explaining work and use of public records)

e. Best Beat Reporting (Award recognizing an enterprising reporter in any medium who follows a single subject or topic throughout the year. Entries should include three examples of reporting and a narrative letter explaining any other relevant facts a judge may use to determine the state’s top beat reporter.)

Entry Tiers

  • Newspaper [50,000+ circulation]
  • Newspaper [LESS than 50,000 circulation]
  • Magazine
  • Television [50+ newsroom employees]
  • Television [Fewer than 50 newsroom employees]
  • Radio
  • Online
  • Photography [All photo entries will be judged against each other regardless of publication size]

CLICK HERE to access the contest submission form

Tell us your story: Dave Aeikens

The Minnesota pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists salutes former journalists who have moved on to new adventures.  In this ongoing series, we invite newsies to reflect on their time in the news business.  Our third entry is from Dave Aeikens, who worked in Minnesota newsrooms for more than two decades:

Dave Aeikens, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, worked as a journalist in Minnesota for more than 20 years.

Dave Aeikens, a former journalist at the St. Cloud Times and other media outlets, works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

What I miss the most: The uncertainty and surprises that can happen every day.  You just never knew what would happen from day to day, who you would meet and who might be on the other end of the phone.

I miss meeting new people and sharing their stories.  I once got a call from a woman who told me that her daughter had been killed by her boyfriend. She called us before the police.  I was stunned by how matter-of-fact she was. We covered the homicide.  That call led to an investigation into the practices of the agency that oversees people on supervised release.

A former college football player and his father once walked into the office saying that the player’s coach had played a practical joke on him, requiring him to drive to the airport to pick up an international football player.  That player did not exist. We used open records requests to detail the discipline brought against the coach.

Life as a journalist was always full of surprises.  That is what I miss about being a journalist.

Dave Aeikens worked at newspapers in Albert Lea, Willmar and St. Cloud and at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  He served on the National SPJ board from 1999-2009, including one year as the board’s president.  He has worked in communications and engagement at the Minnesota Department of Transportation since August.

Have a reflection to share?  Send it to the Minnesota SPJ at minnesota.spj@gmail.com