Grim's Tales: Attention, Jesse Ventura!
What makes the difference between a job where you work to make money and a job that gives you meaning?
I know it can get dull going to the same job over and over and over again. Admittedly, the sheer volume of work (even in the news industry) can wear down or hide passion and make a person dull (especially in the winter). There are a few things that tend to rekindle that spark.
• Working on something that interests you: I've shared my passion for this job a number of times, but I don't think I've ever given an example of the specific news stories that have really resulted in passion.
It's probably no surprise that the search for information on three veterans buried in the Pine Ridge Cemetery tops that list for this year. A few years earlier, it was the search for photos of three other veterans in our area to help complete a virtual memorial wall in Minnesota (a project that wrapped up only about a year later).
These two topics were personally interesting to me, so it was easy to really dig in and put a great deal of time and effort into them. I would be lucky to come across more stories like this.
• Setting goals: Every year after the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest I browse the magazine printed with the winners and I find awards I would like to win. When done, I set a goal to find a story that will win me (or the newspaper as a whole) one of those awards. This has resulted in a certain amount of success.
Last year I won an award in the photo story category featuring Carol Stimson's amazing wild rice processing plant. I won a use of video award for a video about the importance of school bus stop arms.
The goal gave me passion, improved my work and I succeeded in the end. How much better could that be?
This year my goal is to get an award for use of information graphics. An alternate route map for upcoming Highway 371 construction should get me in the ring at least, I hope.
• Facing a challenge: This is something that has recently energized me again. Last year for our annual lake magazine, Love of the Lakes, I thought that it might be interesting to write a story about the annual Governor's Fishing Opener.
That doesn't sound all that exciting. Here's the challenge: In addition to Gov. Mark Dayton there are three living former governors of Minnesota, each of whom attended at least one fishing opener in our coverage area. I want to interview each of them about their experience fishing one of our lakes, and about their opinion of fishing's effect on Minnesota's economy and culture.
Now you can see the challenge. I have reached members of the Dayton and Tim Pawlenty teams by phone (politics means having a publicly known phone number). I think the chances either of these men will agree to an interview are 50/50.
I have also gone out on a limb and used snail mail to try to reach Arne Carlson and Jesse Ventura after the few phone numbers I found had failed. Carlson replied right away with a fabulous interview. I have also tried reaching Ventura via his active Twitter account (to no avail).
While I am at a dead end (and the mercy of whoever receives my letter), I am still planning to pursue this challenge to some sort of an end, so hopefully I will find contact methods other than snail mail.
With many stories I have asked for help from you, the reader. That being said, if you have ever had a personal connection to Ventura, let me know if you could help me get in touch with him. Thanks.