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Teaching old dogs...

April 11, 2008 - Dan Voigt
A week ago, I attended a sportswriter's conference in Des Moines, sponsored by the Iowa Newspaper Association and the Iowa High School Athletic Association. The day-long seminar was designed to allow newcomers to the profession to gain some insights on "how to do it", including ways to present stories, layout pages, and take sports photos. We had a couple of writers who related stories of their own expereiences, a kind of "Don't do as I did" thing, which was familiar for many of the "veterans" of the trade. We also had a session on photography with Doug Wells of the DesMoines Register, who taught me that I'm going to have to win a $20,000 lottery prize to really get good quality photos, because I'll need to buy lenses that cost anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000 each. I'll just take my chances with what I've got now, thank you, but if any of you would like to donate to the cause..... Anyhow, at lunch, we were escorted into a meeting room at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, and took seats at the tables. I sat with a couple of co-conspirators from the State Wrestling INA Photo Pool, where we had developed complete plans for world domination, free food for journalists and unlimited expense accounts, but lost the napkin we'd written the secrets on. As we sat down at the table, I looked at the table service and knew we were in deep trouble. Spoon and knife on the right, two forks on the left, and a fork lying above the place setting. Our host from the INA, Leo Landis, walked up to our table. "Leo," I said, "Your'e killing us here - we're sportswriters. You know, hotdogs, popcorn and a Diet Coke. But three forks! Why not one of those plastic sporks - that would be more fitting!" Leo just laughed. "Wait till the afternoon break," was his response as he walked away. Well, we managed to figure out which fork to use for what, and I'm proud to say that all 12 of us at the table used all of our silverware in an appropriate manner and left no untensil untouched. All in all, it was a good seminar, it reminded me of a lot of the reasons why I enjoy this profession, and is was a good learning experience. By the way, the afternoon break was popcorn and diet Coke, so all was well - with the exception of the quarter-sized snowflakes as we were leaving the city.


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