So this is the end of 1st semester. My last day on the job. Can't complain. I had my good days, and my rough ones, but no matter what, I can say that I did it my way!
I have come to realize more and more this semester that you create your own luck. Yes, sometimes you get really lucky out of left field, but usually, if you are good to people and work hard, you set yourself up to be lucky and that's what I have been so far in my life. Lucky, but not all by fluke, but because of the way I was raised and now the way i handle myself.
The best investment you can make is in yourself. If you are betting on someone or something. There's no surer thing than yourself, if you know that you are going to try your hardest and do the best you can possibly do. Why bother relying on people for things you know you can do? It is important to know when to delegate and when to step aside for other people, but if you have the ability to do something on your own, the best possible way, without driving yourself nuts...Why not?
See you next semester!
As the semester winds down to my last two days here at MDN this semester, I am starting to understand why people get excited for the legislative session. The "off-season" has its moments of fast-paced hard hitting news down in the Capitol, but it isn't with any consistency. It's just like the off-season in sports. You have freshman orientation and election day. You have a few days here and there that stand above the rest and lead Sportscenter, but they are few and far between. The frist day of free agency, winter meetings, and a couple others, but other than that baseball doesn't lead many headlines in comparison to football in the winter. The Mets named their new manager a few weeks ago and this week named a coaching staff, but no one cared. It was talked about for a little bit, but the Jets trainer, who tripped a Miami Dolphins player made the cover of the newspapers. The Giants re-directed flight from Minneapolis to Kansas City even got more coverage. It's not that the Mets are not important, but people care most about what is happening now, and directly affects people now.
The public doesn't want to hear much about "potential" laws and bills next legislative session. They want to hear about the stories that are affecting them at this moment.
This past week at the Capitol, things have picked up. Hard news is flowing at an alarming rate (relative to the beginning of the semester). As the legislative session soon starts with an immense amount of new law makers, different stories begin to uncover and it makes the upcoming legislative session look very exciting, from a journalist's perspective.
But, what I have really come to realize is that I am not the biggest fan of feature writing. Reporting isn't as bad as it sometimes seems, but I find it much more exhilarating for day-turn stories and stories on issues that I really know and understand. With feature's, a story must be covered from all angles, making the reporter at the mercy of many sources rather than just a couple. Some features can be interesting and fun to cover, but overall I prefer the news that is on quick deadline.
Last week, I walked across the street into the courthouse. I went through a metal detector, gave up my phone, and walked up the large marble staircase. I strolled into Division 2 of the courthouse and watched the Missouri Supreme Court hear oral arguments. The case was of a illegal Guatemalan woman who lost her son when she went to jail, and now wants him back.
The intriguing part of the hearing, was not even the fact that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments, but the fact that the Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S. made the trip, all the way from Washington D.C. The ambassador stood there tall and strong, almost trying to intimidate others around him. He stayed on the topic of the case, but occasionally segwayed from the case to spark a little controversy.
What made this story great to cover was that it had two controversial topics wrapped into one. Immigration and Adoption. In the U.S. these are two topics that many people feel very strongly about and when the combination of the two are combined, emotions take over and it is important to remember to keep a level head.
A level head is what the reporter needs, but the attributes of a reporter begin with courage and fearlessness. As a reporter, fear does not exist. Intimidation, does not exist either.
On Tuesday night, I witnessed a 78 year old, 30 year veteran of the House, concede the election. Ike Skelton said goodbye to the House and welcomed in Vicky Hartzler. It was a heart felt ending to the night.
The drive home made me think about the night and how the semester has unfolded. I started not knowing much about radio broadcasting and even less about Missouri politics, but somehow I covered pre-election issues and candidates. And to make it even better, I covered an election watch party for a prominent member of the House. And to put the icing on the cake, I got to go on KMOX live and update listeners about the watch party and the race. It has been an incredible experience so far, and it's not even over yet.
What I have realized though, now that election day is over, is that news does not stop. Politics do not stop. In fact, politics are just now beginning. Speculations and political agendas are heard throughout the halls of one of the most beautiful buildings I will ever work in: The Capitol Building.
Over the past two weeks, Mizzou has been apart of two trending topics on Twitter in the US category.
The two trends: Mizzougameday AND University Hospital.
Thank you J-School! Because if I didn't have Twitter, I would have not seen Mizzou's newly found fame on Twitter.
I recently have gotten myself a twitter so I could tweet like a journalistic twit. I understand that twitter can be used for good quick journalistic reporting, but sometimes it backfires. Case and point with the University Hospital lockdown yesterday. The countless rumors that circled the Mizzou campus about a gunman, on campus, shooting four students was outrageous. Phone calls and texts to friends and family in fear of an actual gunman clogged the airwaves.
But, there was no gunman on campus. There was no shooting of four students on Virginia Avenue. There was just a precaution taken by a campus hospital. Just one small action that got blown up into a huge rumor that circulated the school.
And of course, everyone jumped to Twitter. Everyone tweeted updates. Some helpful. Some not so helpful.
The tweets that were full of scared emotions and opinions and the ones that were full of innacurate facts made many people frantic. And what it taught me was that I have to take everything on Twitter with a grain of salt, because as great as it is to have facts about the breaking story immediately, the most accurate facts are not always the ones that come out first.
Looking on the wall of the news room, I occasionally glance over at the wall of quotes. It's a lot of torn up pieces of loose leaf paper and yellow legal paper with random funny, helpful, and inspirational quotes from the news room's past. This week, one quote in particular, caught my eye:
"If you have a lead with more than one prepositional phrase, you go to journalistic hell."
Well, maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but either way, it really hits on something I have learned this week.
I always knew that radio and television writing is very different than writing for newspaper. You write for the ear, not the eye. But, when writing a 3 -4 minute feature story, it really gets tempting to put a lot into a sentence and make it extremely formal. However, it's all about the clear and concise sound bites with quick and eaily understood commentary, and explanation, from you as the reporter.
As the weeks have gone on here in Jefferson City, my blogs have changed, reporting strategies have changed, writing style have changed, and I feel that it is all for the better. And in the coming weeks, all I can do, with hard work, is get better.
"You can't fulfill your dreams, unless you dare to risk it all."
That is a quote everyone should live their life by. This past week, I was able to do multiple day turn stories and begin to wrap up my first feature since arriving in Jefferson City. I have been able to do all my work and it all has been going great here in the Capitol. But, I have realized that in order to do journalism well, you have to take it home with you. You have to always be prepared and willing to do anything to finish a story.
The only way Blunt and Carnahan can become a US Senator, and the reason why they are, where they are, is because they have done everything in their power to do so. The only way college students can be truly happy in their future is by working hard and "doing the right thing." The only way to turn stories; the only way to live life is to not leave anything on the table. If you can say that you did everything in your power to get your stuff done, then that is when youhave risked it all. That is when you have the opportunity to fulfill your dreams.
To start the week, I reported a story on the fact that Missouri's average ACT score has not moved in the past 5 years. And then on my second day in the office I focused on my feature story on the property transfer tax issue, which will be on the ballot in November.
This week was the first time I had to cover a meeting (The Missouri State Board of Education). I asked the necessary questions to find out the reasoning for having a closed session meeting the next morning. I got my answer, but realized afterward that I had to stay on top of my news better. It is one thing to know about your immediate surroundings and the story you are covering, but you realize that most things are connected. The reason for a meeting in Jefferson City may have to do with a story that occurred recently in St. Louis or Camdenton.
Another thing I learned is that when you get an assignment to cover one story, you may very well come out of the assignment with a completely different story and additional story ideas for the future. Being a journalist is about being perceptive with open eyes. News happens all around you, but all too often people have on blinders looking for something specific. The best journalists are the people who can look at one story and come out with more than you began with.
I am looking forward to being able to finish up my feature on the property transfer taxes and then starting on my second feature story.
Thank you very much.
This week has been an exciting one because this past Tuesday I did the story about Governor Jay Nixon and the knifing of the Penn Valley Community College dean. The story was still unfolding as I was learning about the situation. I had to wait until 3:45 pm, when I got the opportunity to interview the Gov. via conference call. I asked him questions about the cutting incident, the comments made by Speaker of the House Ron Richard, and Ford. Now, immediately after I was under a deadline to get the story turned out. I was able to do so because I am becoming very familiar with the equipment and procedures within the office of writing a wrap, voicing the wrap, adding to Newsbook, as well as tweeting the story.
The thing I learned from this particular story was about the process of interviewing. I used quotes from the Governor as well as the Kansas City Police department about the situation. I learned that when questions are formed out and thought of ahead of time, the answers can be listened to more carefully for follow-ups. If you are searching for words in an initial question, it is harder to get the quote you need, because what you say, is not always what you mean.
And now in the upcoming week I will begin on my feature stories. I am interested to see the difference in reporting feature stories versus day turns, so I am ready to experience and learn.
Thank you very much.
This is my second week in Jefferson City, and I love the experience I am gaining from the stories I am reporting. I have dealt with a lot of frustration with people not returning calls, but I expected to have days like that. I did a story on bicycles at Drury University, last week and was pleased with the outcome. I am now going back to working on my child health care story, which has been the most difficult for me to work on. But, before I try and make the push for that story, I will report a story on Dead Grass by contacting Missouri's Department of Natural Resources.
Overall, I have learned that I must be persistent with talking to people. Without being obnoxious, the object is to get my questions answered as soon as possible. Another thing I learned is that when interviewing someone and trying to retrieve a sound bite, I may have to ask the same question multiple times, in order for the person to organize their thoughts cohesively.
I am definitly looking forward to learning more. From the Capitol, I'm Sherman Fabes
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.