Posts Tagged ‘journalisim’

On Canada Day, I had planned to be at a picnic at the Barnet Marine Park. However, when I came in from my morning run, a message from a publicist was on my business line. Would I be interested in a story?

Does a parrot love millet stalks? Suddenly, my plans for the day changed.

There’s something about a breaking news story that I can’t resist.

I wasn’t always that way. Several years, when I first started working as a journalist, I much preferred feature stories, although I didn’t know what they were called. With a non-timely story (as I called them to myself), I could take the time to get the facts right, and choose the details to use carefully – maybe even set each one aside a day or two before submitting it so I could reconsider the wording and structure in the cold, rational light of second thoughts.

By contrast, news stories terrified me. Writing for a largely North American audience, I am at a natural disadvantage compared to writers on the east coast, who are awake and working three hours before I am. The idea of rushing to finish a story in a few hours, especially with my time zone handicap, seemed rash. Undoubtedly, I would make a mistake.

But that was before I had tried writing a breaking story, and before I had made at least my share of mistakes. Now, the challenge exhilarates me.

In fact, a large part of the appeal lies in the challenges. In the space of a few hours, I have to decide who to interview, talk to them and transcribe the results, then produce some sort of coherent story. I’ve learned a lot of tricks of the trade in learning how to cram all these tasks into as little time as possible.

I’ve also learned to work through my fears, ignoring the little inner voice that is constantly yammering that I’m not going to finish in time – and that, too, is a form of challenge. Douglas Adams can joke all he want about the sound of deadlines whooshing over his head as they zoom by, but meeting a deadline – especially an impossibly close one – can be a measure of skill and a source of accomplishment, so long as you don’t have to manage the miracle four or five times a day.
Moreover, the flip side of urgency is a feeling of accomplishment when you’re done. And if you’ve beaten the other three or four writers on your beat and posted your story before they have posted theirs, then the accomplishment feels even greater. You’ve proven your ability to come through in a crisis.

Never mind that the portal sites will link to other stories on the subject as readily as to yours, or that the wisps of glory are ephemeral, blown away and forgotten within three or four days. For a few hours after your story appears, you can enjoy the delusion that you know something about writing after all.

These are all reasons why, despite all my efforts to be hard-headed, I can’t resist a news story. Let me sniff one, and I’ll foam at the mouth in my eagerness to enjoy the sense of purpose it brings.

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