Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First Assignment

When I visited Waterman on Friday, Turchetta suggested I spend the weekend driving around our viewing area and meeting members of our community. He said to ask them as a new reporter, what I should know about the area and what they believe are the biggest issues plaguing  their community. 

Overall, I learned quite a bit from yesterday's assignment. On Friday night, I ate at a restaurant in Fort Myers Beach. My server was from Cape Coral. She told me all about the foreclosure rates in her community and one mortgage company in particular that's known for taking advantage of Floridians (I won't mention the company's name, but I plan to pitch the idea in a story meeting on Monday). Next, I drove to Naples, a luxurious community with many wealthy individuals. Again, I heard complaints about foreclosure rates and how so many people there can no longer afford their expensive second homes. I spoke to one couple who said they purchased a home for $300,000, which one year ago would have been on the market for over a million.  

On Saturday, I didn't speak to quite as many people. After finishing a handful of errands, I headed out to Coconut Point in Estero. Coconut Point is one of many new retail developments in Southwest Florida. It is a 90,000 square foot shopping mall, with  restaurants, retail, office space, a theatre and even condominiums. I figured it would be a good spot to meet individuals from all over the area. 

Upon arrival, I spotted a woman sitting alone outside of The Grape Bistro. I started a conversation with her and found out she was a middle school teacher in Collier County. She told me as a reporter on the education beat I would spend many days in Collier County. She said many teachers are upset about the takeover of Superintendent Dennis Thompson. She commented that teachers would not be receiving their steps this year, and that teachers and school board members are unsure how to evaluate Thompson and how to proceed with educational goals in Collier County. Then this lady's friend, a teacher at Pinewoods Elementary in Estero, joined us. They invited me to share an appetizer and drink with them. The Pinewoods teacher discussed Lee County education budget cuts. She told me many of the teachers were laid off last year, and about half are currently being offered their positions back for the next school year. She said many have already found new jobs, and it has created "quite an emotional mess". She also said she hasn't received her steps in two years, even though she has been an educator in Florida for 28 years. The ladies were so friendly and interesting that I ended up spending a few hours at The Grillroom restaurant with them. Of course, most of our chat was centered on fun topics such as great places to visit/hang out in Southwest Florida, but our conversation was very interesting and it was delightful to meet them. So far, everyone I've met here has been really great. People are more than willing to chat, and everyone has a great story to tell. I look forward to those I will soon meet. My adventure continues today.

1 comment:

  1. Very impressive Sarah. You seem to have the drive to be a storyteller-not just someone who wants to be on TV. You do a good job.....I enjoy watching you on the news. Keep digging and talking to people...that's where you'll get your best stuff.

    I'm a former anchor/reporter at Waterman and Todd's wife!!! And a complete news junkie!!! Once its in your blood-it stays!!!!

    It helps you're from Chicago-Todd is too and we're die hard Cubs fans!!!!!