What to do on your furlough: my take

Alan Mutter shares tips on his “Reflections of a Newsosaur” site about what to do with your furlough if you have been given an involuntary, unpaid leave, as some newspapers are ordering.

While Alan seems to focus on journalism career development (nothing wrong with that), I’d like to offer a few suggestions, which focus more on “life development” and build on my post from a few days ago, regarding how to charge your batteries in a bigger-picture sense. The following cater a bit to visual journalists but could apply to anyone.

  • PHOTOGRAPHY: Wander around your city to an area you’ve never been, or maybe to an area you’re afraid of (be extra mindful, though) or a safe area late at night, and do a photo shoot. Even with a cheapie pocket camera. Look at things in a fresh way, like a total newcomer. It might even lead to a slide show you could offer up to your newspaper’s web site. (Learn the technology, quite easy, to do an online photo show, as Alan suggests.) Maybe you’d start a series on “hidden corners of our city.” Take abstract photos, go up to a stranger and ask to take a portrait. You might get a great story idea out of it.
  • MUSEUMS: Check out a museum or art gallery you’ve never been to, or at least not lately. Chat up the docent or gallery owner or artist. Investigate the online offerings for the show – background of the artist, etc. Pay attention to the gallery signage, lighting, and arrangement of the pieces. All these are just a different form of design, but with many similarities to what you do at the newspaper. Things are put in place for a reason. (We hope!)
  • BOOKS, Part 1: Go to a thrift store and browse the used books stacks. Buy 10 books that you think co-workers might enjoy. Take them back to the office and give anonymously to specific people, a “welcome back from your furlough” gift, or leave near the coffee maker with a “Please Take One!” note. (I have a thrift store near me where I can get books as cheaply as 25 cents, or sometimes for free! This helps out with the following …)
  • BOOKS, Part 2: Organize a book drive to help out the library I have started in the Kenya slums. You can do this through your church, child’s school, neighbors or office. We are already 2,000 books strong and growing, thanks to the help of people around the country! For more info, see our home page, or email me for more info at ron (at) ronreason.com. We’re interested in some specific kinds of titles, so read this list to learn about that.
  • VOLUNTEER: Get on Craigslist, or ask nearby civic organizations, and see who can use a volunteer for a week. Or even just a few days, if you want to keep a few days for the above stuff for yourself. Take some photos while filling grocery bags for needy families, or visiting with the elderly; interview the on-site staff; write a story about it for your paper/website to publish when you return. Be the inspiration that is needed in your community!

OK that’s my preaching for today. There are tons of things to do with your furlough – make the most of it!

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1 Comment

  1. Jason Whitlock

     /  February 28, 2010

    What to do on your furlough – be grateful you have a job to have a furlough from! (lol)

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