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A journalist's Christmas list

December 23, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

It's only a couple more days until Christmas; a time to spend with family and friends, be thankful for what we have and give to others.

Journalists are always on the move trying to gather news and put together our product.

While I don't really need anything this year, there are a few things that would at least make my work life a little easier.

Our sports editor, Mike Mathison, drew my name in our newsroom gift exchange this year, and provided me with a few fun and useful items, but these days it's better to be safe than sorry.

So, here are a few ideas in the event anyone wants to brave the stores today or early Monday.

My old office chair.

I used to have a nice, comfortable office chair when the Daily Times staff was still in our old Weirton office. We weren't able to bring them with us when we came to Steubenville three years ago, though.

I miss that chair.

An unending supply of red ink pens.

In college, many of my professors at West Liberty, including Bill Hanna and Kathy Swift, who were advisors to The Trumpet, often used red pens to grade and edit our work.

When I became an editor, it's a habit I picked up. For whatever reason, though, my red pens have a tendency to disappear, especially when I go on vacation. I figure a steady supply would take care of that problem.

An unending stash of notebooks.

We go through notebooks pretty quickly around here, and I'm always finding myself looking for a clean piece of paper to take down a note or message. That's why, when we get some office supplies in the newsroom, several of us grab two or three notebooks at a time.

It's just something we always need; at least until someone decides to buy us all digital tablets.

An up-to-date Associated Press style book.

For those who aren't aware, the Associated Press has specific rules we journalists are supposed to use in our writing, which is why some news articles have spelling and grammar which differentiates from how many of us were taught in school.

The AP changes some aspect of its style rules just about every year. Since I started in the business, for example, the proper use and spelling of website has changed at least twice, and now with social media becoming a bigger part of our work, there are rules for it as well.

The book I have is five years old. Just throwing that out there.

A teleporter, Green Lantern power ring, or a TARDIS.

Yes, these are sci-fi and comic book references for those of you who dislike my using them. I know they're not real, but if they were we journalists could definitely find them useful, especially when we get overbooked trying to cover events.

There is so much going on in our area and not nearly enough of us to get to all of the action.

That's why we often ask groups and schools to send us information and photos of their activities. It still should be publicized, but we just can't always be there.

Psychic powers.

We often joke in the newsroom that people forget we're not psychic. I couldn't tell you how many times we get calls from people upset we didn't cover or publicize their event even though no one let us know it was going on.

We still couldn't necessarily get to everything out there, but at least we would have some way to know they're going on. Plus, it could really come in handy to know if people are lying to us.

The ability to get a full night's sleep.

It's just been a while since this has happened, and having to get up at 4 a.m. everyday doesn't help.

A little extra time.

We're all doing more with less, and that often takes time away from other things we would like to do. Editing copy, updating web content, writing articles and columns, taking photos and video, plus other odds and ends, takes up a lot of my day. Even just an extra hour each day would be a big help.

At the very least, I would like a way to have the occasional two-day weekend.

Of course, I don't actually expect to find any of these under the tree on Tuesday, especially the TARDIS. It just wouldn't fit.

But it's OK. I'll manage. Besides, Christmas isn't about the things you get.

Merry Christmas from the newsroom to all of you.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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