Old reporting habits die hard, so why keep fighting them?

Over the course of the last two weeks’ interviews for my advanced reporting project and some unrelated reading and analyzing of studies for my economics class, I’ve realized two things:

1. I’ll never be as good at anything as I am at talking and school things (note-taking, answering questions, the like)

2. I’m really more of a “break-it-down” reporter than a “let-me-tell-your-story” reporter.

Which isn’t to say that I can’t do both, or that I shouldn’t learn the latter, because that’s definitely one of my goals this semester. But lately I’ve been getting so caught up in what I can’t do so well (find detail, write super descriptively, develop a master narrative) that I’ve forgotten what I can do well (make the undigestible digestible, wade through numbers and academia-speak, clarify, clarify, clarify).

I’m not sure if I’ll ever end up being a natural storyteller in the way some long form magazine reporters are. I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel comfortable giving lots of descriptive detail. I’ll do it, but it won’t come easy. But in the time I’ve reported so far, I have found some strengths that have floated to the top of my reporting repertoire. And I can’t forget to acknowledge them or try to ignore them, however much I might want to focus on storytelling.

Sometimes, it just feels good to do something you’re good at.

Like I said last week in my advanced reporting blog, I’m a bit stuck with my project. I’ve got more notes than I know what to do with, and I am broaching the point where I need to figure out how this stupid thing is going to get written. Is it a series? A collection of separate articles joined by a common theme? One huge story? Do I even know how to write a series? (No.)

Needless to say, it’s been overwhelming. But remembering that this one project doesn’t define me as a journalist and that I still have valuable skills that I can do well has helped.

As much as I might try, I can’t be good at everything. But I am good at some things, and for now, that just has to be enough.

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2 thoughts on “Old reporting habits die hard, so why keep fighting them?

  1. Pingback: The Rx for a messy project? A little more conversation. | Shaina Cavazos

  2. Pingback: Just talk it out. | Fall '12 Advanced Reporting

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