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.

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Talkin’ bout my generation

Me and my dear Twain friends at the J-School’s 2012 graduation this past May. Katie (the one in the robes) graduated a full year early and will be starting graduate school in the fall (Can you tell I’m proud of her?).

See the people in this picture? We’re part of what has been christened the “Millennial” generation. Or Generation Y. Or Generation Next. Or the Echo Boomers (Thanks to Wikipedia for that one). You get the idea.

I could rant about how misjudged my peers and I are, and I could list myriad examples of how my friends and I defy the oft-repeated entitled, lazy, dependent and spoiled stereotypes. But I won’t do that here. That is a post for a much worse mood. And also, if you are reading this, you are close to my age and likely already know all those things anyway.

Instead, as I settle into my internship at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, I’m intrigued by the working style differences between me and the rest of my department. To my knowledge, I’m the youngest by about 5 years, and I’m the only one still in college.

Let me start off by saying that this post, and probably a few to follow, aren’t meant to be a judgment on my colleagues, but rather a look at how age can influence how people work. It’s not about quality — I’ve seen people of all ages here and at the Missourian doing amazing journalism. And it’s not about quantity either. It’s more about style.

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