The Rapidian

On the Record, with local Business Reporter Cami Reister

Underwriting support from:
Grand Rapids Press Business Reporter Cami Reister

Grand Rapids Press Business Reporter Cami Reister

Reister's children, Donovan and Ella, at ArtPrize

Reister's children, Donovan and Ella, at ArtPrize

An ArtPrize favorite of Reister's

An ArtPrize favorite of Reister's

A Q&A with a Grand Rapids Press business reporter

This periodic feature for The Rapidian will spotlight the media personality behind the byline, camera or mic. 

Do you know the meaning of the word neologism? No doubt local newspaper journalist Cami Reister is familiar with its meaning as well as the definitions of many other obscure references in the English language. The Sparta native enjoys learning a new word each day from Dictionary.com.  

Cami’s interest in expanding her vocabulary serves her well as a journalist. Currently, Cami is a business real estate reporter with The Grand Rapids Press, where she launched her career as an intern in 1995. She realized her passion for the written word at Hope College and later earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.  

Cami even married a fellow journalist, who, today, is also her co-worker. Her husband of 15 years, Darin Estep, is the deputy news editor at The Press (Darin also serves on the editorial committee for the Rapidian and on the Community Media Center Board of Directors). As newlyweds, the couple relocated to New Hampshire in 1996 to pursue careers in journalism at local newspapers. They returned to Grand Rapids nearly three years later and established roots in the city.  

They also started a family. Cami and Darin have two children, son Donovan and daughter Ella.  

Cami recently took time out to go on the record about the business beat, social media, ArtPrize and her little-known reign as apple queen. 

What beats have you covered in the past and which one did you enjoy most? 

I’ve covered education, cops and courts, transportation and now business for the past four years.

I never thought I’d enjoy business reporting but it has been very fun – you get to meet so many different people. In covering this beat, you’re meeting an even wider array of people because you could be talking to the owner of a popcorn shop or writing about social media or real estate or a T-shirt company. It’s people of all ages and backgrounds.  

How do you find working in the same newsroom as your husband? 

Working with my husband is great. We really rarely see each other and don't work together directly very often, but it's nice knowing he's at the other end of the room. And when we talk about our days, we're on the same page.

How do you feel about the current state of the newspaper industry? Will consolidation continue? 

I think the worst is over, especially here at The Press. The leaders here are very positive about the company's bottom line and the future of both the print product and the website. The industry will never be the way it used to be, but hopefully we're positioned well to take us into the future.

How has social media impacted your job?

I used to love the pseudo-anonymity of being a print reporter, so it was a little tough to transition into the world of social media where my picture is out there on Facebook and Twitter for the world to see. But that is where journalism is going, so that is where I went. Now I really enjoy it. I've met a lot of new people, expanded my source network and have come across story ideas. And people often tell me they appreciate the stories I post because they don't always have time to read the paper or check the website.

Do you think comments posted to stories on MLive.com should remain anonymous or be attributable? 

In the new world, you want clicks and you want people going to your site. If you’re going to make it difficult for them to speak then they are going to get annoyed and go elsewhere. But, there is something to be said about full disclosure because some of those comments are so out of line. 

It’s like road rage. If you’re driving in a car, you find yourself acting very differently from the way you’d act in the grocery store pushing a cart. It’s not likely you’d say that type of thing to someone’s face or in mixed company. 

What do you like best about working in media?

The people you get to meet. It opens a lot of doors to get to know so many different people. Of course, there’re the high profile interviews and chance to get back stage. But, I don’t get a lot of that, covering the real estate industry. 

What is your biggest challenge working in the media? 

When people don’t want to talk to you. If I can do this honestly, it’s part of my job to try to convince them that’s it in their best interest to talk to me. Usually, there’s a lot of good that can come from sharing a story. Covering real estate I’ve written about a lot of foreclosure situations. These stories show that you are not alone. This is the crux of a lot of news stories where other people can empathize and sympathize. Some people might even come to their aid or change something for the better. 

I got a call from a woman in Holland whose children were in and out of the hospital because her home was contaminated with mold. She had to get out of the house immediately. Community agencies banded together with a plan to knock it down and build a new home. Meanwhile, she was working with the bank to figure out what to do and the mortgage company wasn’t getting back to her. She felt because of the media coverage the mortgage company responded and gave her the approval. I don’t really know if it was the media coverage or if the mortgage company finally had time to do it. But, when you shine a light on things like this, it sometimes motivates people. 

What do you think Grand Rapids needs? 

A latte delivery service! 

I think Grand Rapids is doing well. Obviously we need the jobs and the basics, but with our community and the area’s philanthropists, the city itself seems wonderful. We seem to be doing it all right. 

What was your favorite ArtPrize 2010 entry? Did your top 10 pick win? 

It's impossible for me to name a favorite. I voted for Cavalry, but among the top 10 it was a tough decision between that one, Lure/Wave and Vision. However, I was in awe of Cavalry the first time I saw it.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? 

I’d be a camp counselor. I never was one. I loved summer camp and went to Camp Concordia every summer from age eight to age 15. It would be fun to spend the whole summer playing, although I know it’s a hard job and dealing with children all the time is very difficult. 

If you could have any superhero power, what would it be? 

So many are fraught with peril! But, I’d like the ability to fly. 

Wonder Woman was cool – she could block bullets with her bracelets. But, I don’t see a real need for that. 

What are three things that people don’t know about you? 

I’m a farm girl. I’m from the area and grew up on a fruit farm in Conklin. We grew mostly apples and some cherries and prunes.

This is a huge thing for me to share: I was an apple queen in Conklin. You had to be a member of an apple growing family to enter these contests. My oldest sister entered the contest and became apple queen. She went on to the state competition, which takes place in December in Grand Rapids. She was crowned Michigan Apple Queen and got to travel all over and do fun stuff. 

I entered the competition when I was in high school and got first runner up at the local level that first year. My parents were so proud. I entered the second year and won. So, I was the Tri-County Apple Queen for a year and made appearances handing out apples and riding in parades doing the “parade wave.” 

I’m a “Twilight” fan. It’s pure escapism. My son started talking about it because some of his friends, shockingly, had read it. He wanted to read it, too. That got me to pick it up. I read it and really enjoyed the story. Then I found several of my friends were closet “Twilight” fans as well. 

 

From Cami's days interning at The Grand Rapids Press to her desire for a latte delivery service, going on the record revealed some fun facts about the person behind the business byline.

Editor's Note: This is the writer's fourth article interviewing local journalists. Click here to see previous interviews.

 

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Comments

One of the first things I ever learned about Roberta was she was runner-up Mrs. Asparagus in 1989.

I was tickled pink to see you were the Apple Queen!

@Kate - I have *loved* every one of your profiles! Keep them coming!

 Thanks, Denise!

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