Preparing for the whirlwind

(Re-posted from the Spring ’13 reporting blog.)

A couple of weeks ago, Jeanne asked me to take on a business piece, leading me to my latest j-school induced experience of “well, I’ve never done that before; sounds good.”

I’ve spent my time since then doing a ton of research, probably more pre-reporting research than I’ve ever had to do for a story (partially because I knew very little about business beforehand). I’ve spent hours wading through websites and news clips and resources, learning what I can and trying to get past the stage where I wonder what half of the business terms I’m reading mean anyway.

And now, after several days of working with the PR department, it looks like I’ll be marathoning through several interviews next week (meaning I have no clue what the final total will be, but I know it will be a lot).

I realize my time with each source will be more limited than I’d normally like, and I only have so much time to work on the story. So I’ve been doing everything I can to lay the groundwork to make my interviews efficient— tons of background research, finding outside sources for facts and figures and contacts, general questions for the PR department so I can focus on the meat of the interviews with my sources.

Since my semester has primarily been focused on feature writing, I’m used to going into interviews with a more open mindset. That’s not to say that I’m unprepared or unfocused, it just means I recognize that part of my purpose is to get to know a person and to get them to really talk about themselves. With my current story, I have to get my sources to that point in a much more concise, focused manner.

On top of finishing massive numbers of interviews for one piece, I’ll also need to churn out a draft of my current story while laying the groundwork for a multimedia story I’m starting. And somehow, all of these things will be done in the next three weeks, when finals week ends and I close Django for the summer and run away to Dubuque, Iowa for my reporting internship.

I’m a little overwhelmed by all of this, I admit, but as I’ve been laying the groundwork for my business story, I’ve realized that with enough preparation and focus, I can pull off whatever I need to finish before hang up my Missourian reporter hat. The next three weeks are going to be a whirlwind, but I’m doing everything I can to head into them with whatever poise I can manage to muster.

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