Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Journalism is on FIRE

Our advisor for the Scroll staff is always telling us to find stories and get more news. Well, last night I finally did as he asked.

I was making myself dinner when I noticed flashing lights coming in through the window. Usually, I'm not a very curious person, which makes me a horrible journalist, but I'm starting to warm up to the trade, so I stepped outside and saw that there was a fire truck and four police cars in the parking lot of my apartment complex. So I immediately called my neighbor who also writes for the newspaper and we headed to the site with our notebooks and cameras in hand.

There had been an electrical fire in one of the apartments in my complex, ironically, the apartment of the editor-and-chief of the newspaper. We interviewed a few girls and snapped some pictures, and I went home and wrote the article.

I still don't know if I could be a journalist in real life, but I am beginning to enjoy pretending, and I am definitely learning.

Here are some things I've learned from my short journalist career so far, all of which helped me adequately cover this news story:

1. Get more than one live source, three is usually a good number.
I have a really bad habit of only interviewing one person, and my editor has to send my articles back to me all the time telling me to get more interviews. But when you get more interviews, you get more perspectives, your story is less biased, and you might find some interesting information that will change your angle.

2. Start with an angle in mind.
An angle is the perspective you want your story to come from (yes, that's redundant. It's journalism). For example, the angle I had in mind for the fire story was students need to be more careful in order to prevent fires in their apartments. But after interviewing people and understanding the situation, I changed my angle to apartment complex managers need to get on top of maintenance so that problems like bad wiring in a bathroom fan don't end in an explosion.

3. Get specifics.
Specific times, places, dates, and especially people. More details make a better story. Also get pictures of every kind.

I finally understand what our advisor has always been talking about. News happens all around us; we just have to have the right kind of eyes open to it.


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