Scouring the Media


Posted on: November 9, 2010

After working at the St. Petersburg Times for several years, former editorial assistant Rita Farlow decided that she wanted more.

CLEARWATER—Rita Farlow worked for the St. Petersburg Times since 1997, but didn’t realize that she wanted to work the beat as a reporter until the late 2000s.
Farlow, who began her career with the St. Pete Times as an editorial assistant, said she worked hard to succeed in the company before becoming a reporter.
“I started as an editorial assistant writing obituaries, because I did have writing skills,” said Farlow. “And really, over a number of years, worked myself up within the company.”
“I was dedicated. If there was an extra shift, I worked it,” Farlow added.
As Farlow worked towards succeeding in the highly popular local newspaper by writing obituaries and doing layout design work, she started to realize in the early 2000s that she wanted to be a reporter. Although she wanted to write, Farlow confessed that she had no background in journalism.
“I actually have an English degree from Virginia Tech, but I had never written for a school newspaper and I’d never been involved in journalism at all,“ she said. “I’ve always been a news junkie and I’ve always read newspapers.”
With only a Bachelor’s degree in English and no professional training, Farlow followed through with her idea by going back to school to get the education she needed.
“Probably by the early 2000s I knew that I wanted to [be a reporter],” Farlow said. “When I realized that I really wanted to be a reporter I went back and got my master’s at USF in St. Pete, because I needed some actual training and I needed the skills.”
While Farlow worked toward her Master’s degree in Journalism, a professional connection gave her the opportunity to start her first beat as a journalist.
“When I was about half-way done with [the degree], an opportunity opened up in St. Pete for a community news reporter covering education, and the woman had been covering that beat, she and I knew each other and she recommended me for the job, and [the Times] gave it to me on a trial basis, and I did okay with that and so they gave me the job.”
Since her first job as a reporter in 2005, Farlow’s beat has changed to something she finds more interesting. Now, as an experienced reporter, Farlow keeps a steady finger on North Pinellas’ cop beat.
“I cover all of the public safety agencies from Largo north to Tarpon Springs,” Farlow said. “So I cover cops, fire, sheriff’s office, I cover murders, accidents, I do some criminal court reporting and occasionally some civil court reporting.”


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