Saturday, May 16, 2009

One of the Reasons I Really Love Uncharted

A Clark's Grebe Floating in Cutler Marsh

I've been writing stories like the ones at Uncharted for a long time. I spent more than 10 years in the newspaper business, for heaven's sake, working on this and that and the other thing and having a grand time of it. As I look back at my newspaper career, however, I've got to say I enjoyed the time I spent at the smaller papers better than at the one larger paper I worked for.


Fewer walls and boxes. I had beats I had to cover, to be sure, but if I got a wild hair and decided to write something akin to a feature story that didn't necessarily fit into my assigned beats, those stories were welcome. At the bigger paper, not so much. They had a features department. That was their job, to fill their pages, and it was our job to fill our pages. The most joy I had at that paper was on the few occasions when that wall fell. Why it was repaired so quickly I never understood. I was able to morph some of my stuff into the featurey genre, but not enough to keep me happy, and I suppose I was too timid to do any more insisting.

Now I get to do what I want.

Not in the spoiled child kind of way. But in a way that I'm able to build on my passions. For instance, thanks to Uncharted I've had a lot more freedom to write about my wanderings through the Lost River Desert. I'm also able to build new passions. I'm working on a story right now on the Cutler Marsh in Cache Valley, Utah, that's making me want to pick up a lot more information on birding. Nature's original voyeurs, you may now have a new acolyte. If only I could justify the $30 for the iBird app for the iPod . . .

This is the power of citizen journalism, versus corporate journalism. There are a lot of talented people out there who have passion for what they do and what they photograph and what they write, but there are darned few outlets for them, even in this Internet age, that can get them the notice their passions deserve. Maybe Uncharted can help fill that niche. It's certainly working out well for me.

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