After a few months in which the most exciting things I’ve published were staff byline crime briefs and a few inches on a power outage, I reported and wrote a relatively substantial story for the first time in, well, a while. (With the exception of the big project I’ve been working on, which is SO CLOSE to publishing.)
On Sunday, while I was perusing my Facebook news feed, I stumbled across a familiar name, the title of a documentary made by a filmmaker I profiled about a year ago. The documentary had just won a top prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
I shot an email to my editor, a “Hey, does this make me vicariously a little bit cooler?” note, with the vague thought that maybe it could be assigned out to a general assignment reporter.
When I chatted with her the next day about the big project I’m wrapping up, she asked, “So, are you going to put something together?”
Thus was this week’s adventure in news writing born. I put my reporter’s hat back on and set to work.
It felt a little strange to be reporting a daily turn (ish — it technically took me two days) story. After a semester on the city desk, I can pore over long-form pieces, I can reconfigure existing stories, and I can rewrite press releases like a champ. But I could tell I hadn’t reported like this for a while.
It wasn’t that anything went poorly, it just felt a little less natural than it used to. It was like pulling an old favorite coat out of your closet, one you haven’t worn in a while, so it doesn’t quite fit the contours of your body like it used to and smells a little bit like your grandma’s house. The story I handed my editor needed more context than I’d given. I ended up being “that person” who called the copy desk later than I would have liked.
But really, I enjoyed the change of pace, the chance to settle back into my roots and flex my reporting muscles, even if they were a little stiff. I reported and wrote Tuesday evening, handed the story to my editor Wednesday morning and published by Wednesday afternoon. I could feel my self sliding into the rhythm of reporting, feeling the rush of pulling a story together and making myself write without agonizing over it because I was on deadline. And I guess on some level, I still feel a little twinge of pride when I see my byline.
I mean, this is probably what I’m going to be doing once I graduate. And while I was a bit out of practice, it was kind of cool to still see that I can do that part of my job, and to know that it is, in fact, still something I enjoy.