Photo from: Keith Cousins
Devin Heilman, General Assignment and Weekend Reporter
May 26, 2015
My mentor’s name is Devin Heilman and she is a General Assignment and Weekend Reporter at the Coeur d’Alene Press. She will hit her two-year mark with the Press on June 1 and is still excited about her job. Devin started reading and writing at a young age, around four years old. Also, in 6th grade one of her teachers said she had a gift for writing which took her into trying to join the Viking Voice, Coeur d’Alene High School’s school newspaper, during her freshman year of high school. She got in during her second semester with one of her friends. At the time they got into the Viking Voice at CHS, there weren’t any freshmen allowed on the paper. She stayed on the school’s paper until her junior year. The next paper Devin moved on towards was The Sentinel at North Idaho College, which she stayed with for three years. During this time, she got her Associates of Science in Journalism. While she was on this school’s paper, she played many roles including: Managing Editor, Copy Editor, Arts and Entertainment Editor, and the Assistant Features Editor. During all of this, she did some side stories for Dog About Town where she was an intern for a while. Devin also graduated Lewis and Clark State College with her Bachelor of Science in Communication of Arts.
There was a lot of prior experience with newspapers, writing, reading, and communicating with people before she got hired at the CDA Press. Devin applied as an intern with a sparkling resume, which she emailed in. Within that same day, Mike Patrick received her email and asked her in for an interview to become an intern, and that’s what she did for a couple of months while still finishing up her BS through the Coeur d’Alene campus of LCSC. I asked Devin, “How do you like it after all of your time being at the Press?” She responded with,“I love it, it’s what I’ve trained for my whole life!” Then, I asked her about the hardest and easiest parts of her job. One struggle she has faced has been trying to figure out the camera. She doesn’t do well with low-light environments. Another struggle would be receiving negative feedback and coming up with a way to answer it without upsetting anyone. It’s also hard not to get feelings involved within stories; for her, it’s hard with animals and gay rights. Some stories that most interest Devin would be fringe science, human interest stories, animal stories, paranormal stories, historical stories, and comedy involved with current events. There are easy parts to her job, and those would be the social interactions that she comes across on a daily basis and how nice it is to weave a story together that she has been researching for a while.
Devin loves print newspapers because of the smell and feel of the paper, and she also loves what a newspaper stands for. She also says that print isn’t dying, but it is changing and it will most likely be around longer. She also pointed out that social media within news sites is becoming more important than it use to be. When an important news outlet stays ahead, they become credible sources for news coverage. I let Devin know about my senior paper where I talked about the Hagadones, who own the newspaper, resort, and a bunch of local stores in town. She stated that Hagadone is their main stockholder and that they have to play up or highlight certain stories. One event that the Press is supposed to highlight is the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Also, if there is something happening with Duane Hagadone, it is recommended that they only write good news or put it inside the paper somewhere.
At the CDA Press, Devin works from Wednesday until Sunday and has Monday and Tuesday off. Some weeks, she doesn’t get a break because of a certain assignment she is on. She says that 50-hour weeks burn her out. After all of her time at the Press, she has been able to make connections, write faster, work with the camera more efficiently, and she has become more confident.
There are three things of advice that Devin would want to give to someone interested in being a journalist. The first thing would be to make as many connections as possible as early as you can. Do not burn any bridges. Also, do not lack interpersonal skills while interviewing or when you are on an assignment, and be personable. Another thing is “don’t just be a good writer, be a great writer.” Write cleanly and stay positive. You also need to take criticism well. The last thing she said was to “be bold,” so stand out and make a difference. The communication never stops at the Press.