Young reporter learns the ropes

schandler@newsobserver.comMarch 2, 2014 

Raymond Baartmans of Cary holds an iPad showing the TIME for Kids Family Edition app. Stories and reviews he’s written as a kid reporter for TIME for Kids have been published there as well as in print and online.

PICASA — COURTESY OF SHARON BAARTMANS

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    Read Raymond’s TIME for Kids interview with YA author Cynthia Voigt at tinyurl.com/mxska8k.

This story won’t be the first time 11-year-old Raymond Baartmans has seen his name printed in a publication.

A few times in the past year already, Raymond has had his name right at the top, in the byline, as a reporter for TIME for Kids magazine.

He was selected for the yearlong gig last fall. The first step, the previous school year, was a class assignment to enter the contest by writing a story about a current news event. Raymond, whose family recently moved from Portland, Ore., to Cary, wrote about Hurricane Sandy and interviewed a cousin who lives in New Jersey. That story made the cut, and he was invited to write again. This time, he wrote about an Oregon woman who adopted a 75-lb. dachshund and helped him lose weight and regain his health.

TIME for Kids recognized Raymond’s nose for news and writing ability and invited him to be one of 10 “kid reporters” nationwide who conduct interviews, write reviews and report local and national news of interest to young people. The stories are published in TIME for Kids’ print edition and website and the TIME for Kids Family Edition app.

So far, Raymond has reviewed a book and a video game, written one half of a point-counterpoint essay about computers grading essays and interviewed Young Adult book author Cynthia Voigt.

Researching his subject and talking to her face-to-face weren’t too hard, he said, but there was a lot of work to do afterward.

“I think the real hard part about that was typing up her answers for the interview,” he said. “Her answers were very long and detailed, so it took quite a long time to get all the answers written down.”

Meeting deadlines, too, can be a challenge, he said.

“(It’s) a deadline that the whole TIME for Kids magazine counts on you for that article spot,” he said. “ … It’s kind of like a race to the finish.”

But there are plenty of perks to being a reporter, too, he’s finding. First, there’s the thrill of seeing your words in print – and knowing a lot of other people are seeing them, too.

“It was really cool just to see a piece of writing that I’d worked on to be in print and in a magazine that’s read all over the U.S.,” he said.

Then there’s the people you meet and the unexpected things you get to do.

He said he really likes “the fact that you never know what assignment you might get from your editors. You might get a book review or you might interview somebody really famous, so that suspense in between assignments, you’re kind of just wondering what your next assignment will be, and it’s really exciting.”

For now, Raymond’s next assignment is a phone interview this week with baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. And someday, like most reporters, he’d like to interview the president of the United States.

If he had a chance to sit down with President Obama, he said, “I would ask him about what’s it like to be president, sort of like a run-through of his day-to-day activity, like how busy he is.”

Through his work with TIME for Kids, Raymond is honing his writing and interviewing skills and learning all about how magazines work.

And there are some bigger lessons, too, said his mother, Sharon Baartmans.

“(He’s) learning the responsibility he has to the magazine, making sure he gets his things done on time, as they were requested,” she said. “He has a responsibility to more than just himself. The magazine is counting on him.”

Wide open future

Like any good reporter, Raymond is keeping his eyes and ears open, as well as his mind when it comes to the future.

“I’m not really sure what I’ll do for my career yet,” he said. “I’ll just kind of have to see what unfolds down the road, in high school and college, and see what I like best.”

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