My group and I finished up our interviews for our final project this week. The hardest parts of our work are starting to wind down: we’ve found and spoken with all our sources, we have a website, and we’ve drafted almost all the parts of our project. Overall, I’ve been proud of my group. We’ve worked together well, and we’ve come together to finish things on time, which might be a first for me in terms of team projects. Actually, I was joking with Margaret the other day that this might be the first time I’ve done a project that’s working out on schedule. (My theory before this project was that that just didn’t happen.)
I was talking to Margaret after we finished up an interview at Rainbow House, a facility that provides services for youth in crisis. We spoke with the marketing director there, who spoke with us some about the program and about the panel of homeless youth we covered for our text story. As we were leaving, both Margaret and I remarked how glad we were that we covered the event, and how our project might have looked really different if we hadn’t found it.
Covering the panel kind of happened by accident. I was scrolling through the J2150 twitter feed, trying to study for my quiz, when I stumbled on an announcement from KOMU about the event. Being something of an on-and-off overachiever, I told Margaret and Emily about it pretty quickly, and really pushed to get the event covered. Once we agreed to go to the panel, we scrambled to get in touch with the right contacts, get a camera and figure out just what we’d gotten ourselves into.
The panel was a really awesome experience. Not only did we get the information we needed for a strong story that focused on individual experiences, but I learned a lot about the issue of teen homelessness in the community. Honestly, I’d never realized it was that prevalent of an issue. When we talked to the woman at Rainbow House, she gave us some statistics both about youth homelessness and the prevalence of things like foster care and abuse. It was a little overwhelming, I admit. I think it helped me realize how big of an issue we were covering and how important it is go get people talking about these issues. Whatever happens with this project, I know my perspective has been changed for good.
One of the crazy parts of this story, to me, is how it almost didn’t happen. If we hadn’t randomly stumbled across a twitter announcement and decided to run with it, we wouldn’t have this story. I wouldn’t have developed this new perspective on issues facing youth in the community. Our project might look really different. And I think I like it better this way.
It always blows my mind how some of the best things that have happened to me have happened as a combination of accident and willingness to run with it. It’s how I got this story. It’s how we got some really cool additional information for another part of our project. If you want to know the truth, it’s how I ended up deciding to be a journalist. (Basically, I got into journalism because I was too lazy to get a schedule change in high school.)
I’m not saying I should wait around for accidents to happen and hope they’re better than the work I have. But I think this has helped point me toward being a little more spontaneous. I’m the kind of person who has to really stretch to get out of my comfort zone or to do things I wouldn’t normally do. But times and incidents like this help me realize how important it can be to try out new ideas and stories, to take advantage of things that might not be what I’m looking for , but that ultimately yield more than I could have asked for.