The piece that I wrote about Anna Badkhen was the first real news story that I’ve ever written, so I undoubtedly faced some bumps and bruises along the way. The first obstacle: the actual coverage of the event itself. How could I make sure that I would get every single quote that I might potentially need…and get them word for word? On top of that, how could I make sure I figured out the heart of the event as well as the general environment and feeling of the crowd. And, if my brain hadn’t been scattered enough, how on Earth was I to simultaneously photograph the event.
But, once I sat down, I found that this multitasking was simpler than I had given myself credit for. Surely, as a journalist, you must be a completely active and engaged listener– tuning your ears to hear the juiciest quotes or the most newsworthy statements. This kind of active listening has been a part of my life as an undergraduate for years, so it was not too much of a stretch to apply it to this news piece.
Yet, there are at least two parts to crafting a news story– the event itself and then the creative part…the writing. Writing has always been my strongest suit, so I hadn’t anticipated it to be particularly challenging or time consuming. However, I was wrong. I attempted to pay close attention to the guidelines of a news story and the concept of an inverted pyramid. However, I ran into trouble because though I found the speech important and entertaining–it felt to me more deserving of a feature story than a news piece. Though the issue was timely, the information wasn’t urgent. I struggled with that balance in my draft.
After I handed in my first draft, I thought it was well-written but not necessarily what the assignment called for. Then came time for the revision– something which I am also not generally accustomed to. I am definitely stronger at writing from scratch than at rearranging my own writing to incorporate changes, and it’s a difficult process decided which sentences can remain unchanged, which need to be tweaked or moved or set up differently, and which need to be omitted in general. Another difficulty I encountered was the passed time between the event and my second draft. Once I knew what needed to be added or changed, I couldn’t go back to the event and focus in on those aspects more closely. Though I had notes, they weren’t as in depth as I would have liked them to be, so it was hard to add new material to the piece.
I’m looking forward applying this new skill set to the feature piece, and incorporating more of the interview aspect to it. Hopefully my experiences and struggles with writing the news story will shed light on how I prepare for, and ultimately draft my longer feature story.