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AUTUMN VISTA: The Wellsville Mountains take on autumn hues as shorter days and cool nights usher in the end of summer. / Photo by Ted Pease

Today's word on journalism

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

On the hooplah surrounding Katie Couric's ascension to the CBS News anchor chair:

"The difference between newspapers and television is that you couldn't care less what a female newspaper reporter looks like when she tells you about a tsunami in Indonesia, fighting in Sudan or the Kentucky Derby. Many of the bylines only give the initials and no one stops to think, 'I wonder who did her hair?' Or, 'She shouldn't wear a navy blue Oscar de la Renta suit.'"

--Art Buchwald, columnist, 2006

Alaskan Postcard No. 1: What I have gotten myself into?

Editor's note: USU student Ginger Warburton writes of an outsider's experience in Alaska exclusively for the Hard News Cafe. This is the first in a series.

By Ginger Warburton

July 3, 2006 | This spring I realized I had no clue what I was going to do this summer.

My cousin Missy worked in Alaska last summer, so I gave her a call.

Two weeks later I was in a car being chauffeured to Seattle by John and Paul -- not the apostles, just some friends of mine.

After an interesting (to say the least) one-and-a-half day road trip, we parted ways at the security checkpoint line of the Seattle airport. John and Paul continued on their way to Canada, and I like many gold rushers before me was traveling"North to the future."

I boarded the plane for what I thought would be an hour flight. As it turned out it was two hours. As the plane descended I looked out the window at the drizzly, groggy world before me. Or maybe I was the groggy one. Either way that was my first impression of Ketchikan, Alaska.

I dutifully followed my fellow passengers off the plane. I openly stared at the one giant man dressed in navy blue, the only security guard in sight. I realized that up until this point I had no realistic idea of what to expect in Alaska. I had imagined a little village in the woods bustling with hippies and lumber jacks. Men clad in plaid flannel and carharrts, college-age students in Chacos, Patagonia attire and dreadlocks. The only information I had gathered was that men outnumbered women 4 to 1, which I hoped was an exaggeration.

Still following everyone, I walked down a flight of stairs and came around a corner. As I surveyed the baggage claim area my eyes fell on a fluorescent pink Post-it note with GINGER written in large letters. The note was in the fingers of not a bearded man or a hippie but held by a 20-something woman with hair pulled tight off her face, glasses, a large coat, jeans and white running shoes. She was hurriedly chatting with someone next to her -- I was so focused on the pink Post-it I didn't really notice if it was a man or a woman. I must have walked toward her, because she saw me and drew in her breath either in a gasp at me or to get some air from the unpunctuated story she had just been telling.

Lisa was her name. She would be my roommate and would also help me with my bags. How nice. She was amazed at how little I had packed. We walked into the groggy world, and oh the rain was not just a drizzle I realized, we were greeted by a white mini van smelling of McDonald's. I stepped out from under the doorway into the wet world on my tip toes, noticing how ridiculous my small, soft leather heels now seemed.

Actually all my clothes seemed somehow inappropriate. The sky was gray, everything was wet, and the mini van didn't produce heat. We drove onto a ferry and crossed some form of water. We continued to drive by fluorescent orange after fluorescent orange cone. There were no mountains, not really that many trees and certainly not a hippie or lumber-jack man in sight. Dilapidated buildings and houses surrounded me, with unkempt yards. We pulled into a small gravel parking lot for three apartment buildings. although they actually looked more like large wooden shacks, we climbed two flights of stairs and came to a door marked "5." This must be ours. Lisa fumbled and jingled trying to find the right key from the overloaded key chain. The door swung open, and my nose was immediately overwhelmed by a strange mixture of curry, mold, must and old cigarettes.

I wandered around in a daze, just asking myself, "What the hell did I get myself into?"

For more on my summer adventures in Alaska read next week!


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