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Dateline Dixon: The life of a journalist isn't always exciting

Dixon holds Government Day

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:35 a.m. CDT

DIXON – The City Council Chambers were a little more crowded than usual Monday night.

As part of Dixon’s Government Day, grade school students took part in the meeting, and some of them sat with the commissioners, whom they had shadowed for part of the day, and read motions and initiated roll call votes.

Some students shadowed members of the police and fire departments, and others shadowed city staff in just about every department.

The table in the center of the room, where the media sits, also had a few more filled seats.

Jason Rugh, an eighth-grade student at St. Anne School in Dixon, sat to my left, and the radio reporters had a student next to them.

Before sitting with me during the meeting, Rugh spent 2 hours shadowing me Monday morning to learn what it’s like to be a government reporter.

As he found out, it’s not always exciting being a journalist.

Government reporters spend a lot of time reviewing meeting agendas, making calls, leaving voice mails, looking over documents, and attending meetings.

Rugh and I tagged along as Christi Warren, Sauk Valley Media’s cops and courts reporter, picked up motions and court documents at the Lee County Courthouse.

I followed up on a few leads I had been given in the past few days and talked about what followup stories might come out of a meeting.

Sometimes those leads turn into stories, and sometimes those ideas for followup stories turn into actual stories. That wasn’t the case Monday.

But I felt like Rugh learned something from his time with me, because after the meeting, when I was reviewing the items that I was planning to write about and what changed from earlier in the day, he was able to pick out the major points.

Government, and reporting on the government, can move slowly. But days like Monday, when students get an inside look at the way government works, are valuable.

They’re valuable because those students might now have a new-found interest in government or covering the government.

So there’s a chance that the future met the present at City Hall on Monday night.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-625-3600, ext. 5529. Follow him on twitter: @MattMencarini.

SVM reporter at Books on First today

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini will have "office hours" from 1 to 2 p.m. today at Books on First, 202 W. First St.

Feel free to stop by and let him know what's on your mind. Is there a story in Dixon you think should be reported? Stop by to share or just to say hi.

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