The Assignment: to take the spin out of an electronic media release and find a story that actually mattered to people.
The Story: The Salvation army received a record-breaking amount of donations to their Christmas Kettle Campaign this holiday season, despite the fact that many Canadians are still trying to pull themselves out of the good ol’ recession slump. read the news release here: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2010/25/c3517.html
What I learned:
From this assignment I learned that part of “doing what scares you” as a reporter can often be simply showing up. I had been trying to get in touch with someone at the Ottawa Salvation Army for days, so in the face of an approaching deadline, instead of calling again, I simply went to the Ottawa Salvation Army Booth Centre and sat downstairs by their reception desk. I called up to the executive director’s desk and said, “I’m downstairs right now. Do you have a minute?” Of course, I knew what I was doing was a little pushy, but I had a deadline, and they had the info. I ended up having a great chat with the director, a wonderful man who was full of useful information– and all because I had the guts to show up.
I also learned that that although Ottawa was somewhat sheltered from the full effects of the recession (save the IT sector which was hit pretty hard), the Salvation Army has still seen a significant increase in demand for its services. I was really astonished at how the local organization has been able to respond to increases in demand for Christmas and ongoing programming and still be there to provide resources for the many Haiti survivors arriving in Ottawa. Going down to the Salvation Army and seeing the many people (mostly men at the Booth Centre) relying on their services to get out of the brutal cold was a good reminder for me to be appreciative of what I have in life.
One thing is for sure, next time I see one of those jolly bell-ringers standing beside a red donation kettle in the mall at Christmas time, I’ll certainly be dropping in some change!
Check out the full story here! http://wp.me/PLVYR-A