Looking at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the chilly, damp October evening- with unexpected intrusions of: journalism!
There I was- standing among strangers- staring at a smaller-sized, faulty-looking building that was stimulating emotions ranging from mirth to empathy. There was a pulse in the air different from many other places I’d visited. Who knows what was making these visitors’ react! Was it the history of the building? Was it about people never giving up? Was it because this building appeared to be flawed- but it was still strong? Was it about the unanticipated gifts that it has provided to so many generations of people in the neighborhood- and from around the world? If your reporting is awesome- it will move us.
You’re sent to cover a story. Initially it proves to not be a story.. or you’ve learned that you’re too late for the real deal. STOP! Can the tale be told through a few local people? Remember: good journalism is most often defined by the process- and not by an anticipated ‘goal’.
Before you return to the newsroom: you’re in a new place or a new neighborhood. Poke around for new stories or new story ideas. Get to know the locals.. enjoy your chats with them.. hand out your cards.
Never trust just one source- and as Helen Thomas said “I never trust anyone who wants to talk to me”. Look for official documents. Laws, ordinances and changes in rules- check the dates. Speak with people working in the town’s municipal building- they can be a treasure trove.
Reporting in a small city can be as stimulating and fascinating as you make it. And if you love your work- it will follow you on vacation. Thank you Italy.. Hello again RTDNA. Your News Coach is back for Round 2- with a grin.
Previously featured on the Radio Television Digital News Association as the News Coach blog series.