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Anderson Cooper-izing community journalism - Rob Felt

In an effort to bring community journalism up to pace with the newest trend in cable news coverage, I'd like to offer my own Anderson Cooper-ized take on a day here at the paper.

If you've somehow missed this new trend, here's a quick breakdown of exactly what we're working with. Geraldo Rivera, Miles O'Brien, Shepard Smith and the like have taken it upon themselves to bring us into the news by becoming the news themselves.

Hurricane coverage has been so full of behind-the-scenes garbage and making-of featurettes that it feels like a DVD Super-Special Platinum Edition.

We've seen video of news anchors helping victims, crying from the strain of disaster and making themselves look like noble stars in the process.

The following is an emotional journey through a day in community news...

Our day starts with a question: what will be in the paper tomorrow? Sometimes planned, sometimes on the fly, we toil to find the balance between coverage and previews, always falling short of our own standards.

A fax comes in. Do we cover this? It's a ribbon-cutting at a new sandwich shop in a strip mall. No, we'll have to pass on this one. Sometimes you have to leave them behind.

It's the hardest part of the job.

I head to the Coke machine, needing some caffeine to clear my head and prepare for what the day may hold. The Diet Coke is sold out. Another sign that we've been juicing our bloodstreams to keep up with the flow of community news.

The phone rings. A Girl Scout fund-raiser has been canceled and now we're short a story for the front page.

Fear sets in.

We comb the senior center's activity calendar with a fury, looking for anything... a ceramics class, a themed bingo game or ballroom dancing lessons.

Nothing.

It might be time for me to resort to the time-tested, although slightly painful, task of pioneering from park to park in search of some everyman recreation to photograph. Kids on swings, doubles tennis, batting practice, you've seen the photos there on the front page.

In times of dire need we turn to these venerable subjects and they repay us consistently.

As our deadline nears the clock on the wall mocks our scrambled efforts, but a press release is rescued from the bottom of a tall pile of faxes.

An elementary school has just met the goal for their annual reading contest and the principal will be shaving his head!

Glee erupts in the newsroom!

The paper is saved for at least another day.

On my drive home after a long day like that I try hard to maintain focus, the flurry of activity blinding my vision and forming vapor clouds inside my head.

Out there on the front lines there is no room for second guessing.

I'm going to have to pull it together before it starts all over again tomorrow.

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or rfelt@henryherald.com .