Inquiring minds

Last Friday (May 18), I joined about two dozen local professionals in Oroville for Nelson Avenue Middle School’s Career Day. I know I wasn’t as popular as the TV news people or the NFL referee, and probably not as much as the animal-control woman, the Navy guy, the mechanic and the police officer. (I might have edged out the nurse, only because the kids see her on campus all the time.)

Still, each of the four 20-minute sessions drew about 20 students—not too shabby. The second group was pretty quiet; thankfully the others had lots of questions, because I do enough self-examination on my own time.

No one left me dumbstruck the way a Southern California sixth-grader did when she asked, “What’s your benefits package?” (Her mom must have worked in H.R.)

The Nelson Avenue kids had their own areas of interest. Here are some things their inquiring minds wanted to know:

Do you have to go to college to be a journalist?

Pretty much—most newspapers want newspeople with diplomas. But that bachelor’s degree doesn’t have to be in journalism; any major will do as long as you write well and understand libel.

How much does a journalist make?

Starting pay is usually around $25,000 to $30,000; the upside is six figures for upper editors in major media markets.

How much do you make?

This is not a major media market.

How do you figure out what to write?

Columns like this I pull out of my … (Don’t worry, parents, I was more discreet with the kids). Some stories come from tips; others come from things I learn or observe.

What do you like the most about your job?

Meeting interesting people.

What do you like the least about your job?

Hate mail.

Has a paper you worked at ever been sued for printing lies?

Well, we’re not in the business of “printing lies” … (Wow, tough crowd!) We do make mistakes from time to time; promptly correcting errors helps keep us out of court, along with being the right thing to do.

How much do you make?

Let’s just say I’m glad my fiancée is a doctor.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve interviewed?

For a question or two, Kobe Bryant. Extensively, Bob Costas. At the CN&R, Scott Gruendl.

What’s your favorite thing in the paper?

Besides my column? Hmmm … Anthony Peyton Porter’s “From The Edge.”

How much do you make in a month?

One-twelfth of “I’m glad my fiancée is a doctor.”

<div class="BreakerHeadNoMargin">Mentoring:</div> This month, I also spoke at a third-grade class—the one attended by my little brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based program. BBBS hopes to expand its outreach in Chico schools by pairing incoming second-grade students with mentoring adults.

Achieving the goal of the 100 Mentors in 100 Days campaign, launching Friday (May 25), would mean one in nine second-graders district wide would get a solid hour a week of individual attention for the whole school year. To volunteer or get more details, visit or call 343-8407.