Moline Dispatch, Week 2: working weekends and riding the QC’s favorite Cat

Week two at the Moline Dispatch was full of press releases, press conferences, and “by lines” for your truly. Not to mention that summer finally decided to come to the Quad-Cities.

A Sunday graduation down the street from the office

On Sunday, May 21, one of the local colleges of the Quad-Cities, Augustana, was having its commencement ceremony. As many of the reporters at the Dispatch have already covered several graduations this Spring, I was chosen to cover this one.

I was very excited about the opportunity to write a piece that would be featured on the front page of the Monday paper. Even though I have been published before, on Traveling Mom and Jauntlust, there is just something so nice about seeing my name in an actual newspaper…

I arrived at the graduation about an hour before the ceremony began and four hours later my story was complete and set to be edited and published.

Augustana is only a short drive from the Dispatch offices and the ceremony took place at the iWireless Center, which is also very close to the office. So, when I told graduates and their families that I was with the paper, they were happy to be interviewed… A very different scenario from interviewing Chicagoans after telling them it’s for a school project.

My professor was right, it feels great to say, “Hi I’m Alexandra Olsen and I’m with the Moline Dispatch…” People are so much more willing to talk when you have a well-established media outlet to back you up.

Other pieces

This week I also got to write about a Scripps National Spelling Bee hopeful from Eldridge, Iowa, a grieving father who was honored by police for his involvement in finding his son’s killer, and an empowering drag-king troupe making their debut in the QC.

All of these assignments were fun to write and valuable lessons on how to compose an article for a local news source. But my very favorite experience of the week came on Thursday, when I got to relive one of my favorite childhood memories while cultivating skills for my future career.

The Quad-Cities’ favorite cat takes journalists for a ride

The Channel Cat water taxi has been has been operating in the Quad-Cities for 20 years and has always been a cash-only business. On Thursday the Chanel Cat invited several journalists to a press conference, where they announced their step into the 21st century, a new app for booking tickets.

This press conference was held at one of their current docks on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, and the whole time it was happening I was hoping they would let us journalists have a ride…

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A great place for a press conference, on the banks of the Mississippi, with a view of the soon-to-be demolished I74 bridge. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen.

I remember riding the Channel Cat as a little girl with my family.

I remember riding it with my grandma Adelma when she came to visit from Brazil one year, the year my little brother Lucas was born. That day, we brought a big thermos full of boiling water and Brazilian green tea on the boat, the captain and the other passengers had no idea what to think. They had never seen anything like it before, and probably thought we were smuggling some sort of drug across the Mississippi. I still giggle when I think about my dad trying to explain it to another passenger.

This memory, and many others, came into my head when we reporters were told that the taxis were there for us to ride. It was a perfect day for it too, not a cloud in the sky.

However, this ride was not one of leisure. As I observed the other reporters take seats nearest those who needed to be interviewed I realized I should probably follow their lead, and so I conducted two interviews… while furiously writing down quotes because the Channel Cat is so damn loud that there was zero chance my microphone would have picked up anything.

The hand cramps were worth it though, I got a good story, a blast from the past, and a breath of fresh air outside of the office.

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A Channel Cat boat moving along next to the boat we were all on, giving photographers a good photo opportunity. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen.

I am very happy with this internship so far… especially after receiving my first paycheck this week!

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