On Tuesday, I spent a few hours in the newsroom helping with snowstorm coverage, yielding a double byline on a quick-turn story about area power outages.
For me, this story wasn’t really about getting the clip. As an advanced reporter for the community beat, I’m focusing substantially less (if at all) on quick-turns and primarily writing stories that require a lot of time and effort. My semester is focused less on volume and more on quality.
So for me, making a couple of calls to help with a snow story was about something else.
First, I did it because I like my job.
I get frustrated with reporting sometimes because I’m human. But at the end of the day, I love what I do. I love holding the paper in my hands, reading my byline and thinking “I made this.” I love working with a team of reporters, making phone calls so we can cover news as it breaks. I love baking cookies and bringing them to a newsroom team with a long day ahead (not the point of reporting, I know, but it’s fun). I love going home and feeling that I’ve served my community in a tangible way.
Since my focus this semester isn’t on hitting a clip count, snow day coverage became a way to do something I care about for a team of journalists and a community that I want to serve.
My other motive for spending extra time in the newsroom was more selfish.
Let me explain.
I hadn’t done a quick-turn story since last May, so I was a little out of practice. My clips are fairly education-heavy, and a snow day seemed like a good opportunity to brush up on my deadline writing and expand it a little bit.
My confidence in writing these stories had been hard-won last spring. After months of nervously sitting with the ACE or with Liz, freaking out whenever I was questioned about my story, I’d learned to keep cool under pressure and turn stories on a tight schedule without much guidance. As I trudged through the slush and snow to the newsroom on Tuesday, I wanted to prove to myself that I still could.
Maybe my contribution wasn’t Earth-shattering, but I helped in the newsroom, and I helped pull a story together with confidence. I made a few phone calls, accuracy checked carefully and quickly and worked calmly with the ACE to get a story up. I helped update the piece after it published. I went home and looked back over the article, and instead of reading it in a panicked fear that something would go horribly wrong, I read it and was proud of what I’d done.
The story isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done. If anything, it’s probably the easiest contribution I’ll make all semester. But even if it looks small, to me it represents a lot. It reminds me of why I love my job, and it reminds me of how much I’m growing.