Under pressure, under deadline

Not much to say tonight. Well, a couple of things to say, but I don’t know how to say them yet, so instead you get these thoughts.

I can kind of do the same thing in journalism — mull things over, I mean, before I have to write them. Or at least I try, writing far enough ahead of deadline that I have a chance to look over my copy with fresh eyes, but it’s definitely not something taken for granted.

The frustrating thing about working with a tape recorder is that your listening skills go to pot a little bit. You think, ‘Oh, the tape is getting this, so my mind can wander a little.” And that’s a very bad habit.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that after an interview, I have to go through my tape again, figuring out what I want to work with. When I first got my recorder, I was so used to not letting my mind wander period and taking decent notes that I could write the story with the general idea of quotes that I wanted to use, and then go back and fill in the blanks. I’m almost positive it’s quicker than basically going through tape twice. So why have I given that habit up? Good question.

Sometimes though, either way, you need to step away from the story before you even start. Someone once told me they do it with the really complicated, jargon-y stories so they can get a handle on how to simplify the story. I don’t do a lot of those technical stories, so I can’t say the same is true for me, but sometimes I find myself doing it with stories with a lot of sources, or trying to find a new angle on an old story.

I did it with my Remembrance Day story — I was lucky enough to basically be handed a human interest angle but even so, I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

I actually ended up leaving the story and driving into Edmonton — I was thinking about listening to my tape on the way there, just to get a better idea of what I was working with, even if I couldn’t transcribe it at the moment, but I didn’t. Instead I just thought about what I remembered from the interviews, and by the time I was waiting for a friend in his apartment lobby, I was tapping out my story on my iPhone for notes to reference when I got back to the office.

Stories that take that kind of thought — even if they’re only 300 words — feel good. So I’ve got a couple blog posts to mull over.

(Edited, Jan. 18, 2012, for content)

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