Weekend shifts and new beginnings

I had my weekend general assignment shift for the semester Sunday. Six hours in the newsroom with an assistant city editor, the other reporter on shift, and the occasional reporter/community outreach member/photographers/you get the picture who came through the newsroom. It was probably the quietest I’ve ever seen it.

Despite that, it was actually a fairly productive day. I came in that morning and picked up a crime brief, which ended up being a rewrite of a release we got from the sheriff’s department since I had trouble getting in touch with anyone on a Sunday morning. It wasn’t much really, but it was kind of exciting. I’ve been reporting for about three months, and this was my first official crime brief. The ACE on duty also told me I did a good job of finishing it up quickly, which was good because I’ve been working on improving the speed of my reporting.

Around noon, the other GA editor for the day came in. My ACE and I had decided to wait until she came in to launch our next plan of action: covering Earth Day. There was a big Earth Day festival almost literally on the Missourian’s doorstep, but we wanted a way to cover it that was more than typical event coverage the paper has done in the past. The ACE had told me this morning about another Earth Day event going on in a local park, so I went to cover that while the other GA reporter went to the event downtown. We decided to talk to whoever we could at our events and see if there was a way we could get a single story about it.

I went to the event at the park, Love Fest-Soul Day. It was definitely a much smaller group than the festival downtown. There were about 30 people, a couple of tables, a live blues band, and lots and lots of hot dogs on a grill. But even though it didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the larger event, it was actually pretty cool. I got to cover something that was much more “off the beaten path,” so to speak, and I got to work on being more natural in talking to people at events and getting outside of my comfort zone. I also really enjoyed getting to do some writing that was outside my usual education coverage. In the end, I found out that the event was at least as much about community as it was about Earth Day, but that allowed me to get an interesting angle on the story. The GA reporter and I ended up doing separate stories, but I think on the whole we both did a good job of getting a fresh perspective on something that happens every year.

Outside of my GA reporting, I started getting some traction on my story about what public schools are doing to meet mental health needs. I did my first interview this morning, and I have a couple more scheduled for later in the week. I’ll be sending out some emails today in hopes of getting more.

But my current thought is this: I should have realized this would be harder than I thought.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to think of ways to contact people to get at different angles of the story. I definitely have some good leads, but there are other places where I feel really unsure about how I am going to talk to people. There are plenty of people I can talk to, but I really want to get as deep as I can into this story, which means I need to find some people outside of more official sources. And honestly, I’m worried about finding people when my story relates to topics that are generally kept pretty confidential. I’ve got a couple of weeks to work on this story, but I know it’s going to be tough. There are a lot of boundaries that I have to respect, and I have to be really transparent in working with people. But there’s a lot of information and perspective I need to get, and I know I am going to have to work hard to get it.

New stories: Columbia police investigating convenience store robberyLove Fest-Soul Day celebrates community, Earth Day

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