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"Lightbulb moments"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by forever_town, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    When people work with young reporters such as college interns or (gasp!) high school students, there's occasionally a moment that comes when an editor realizes the young reporter is starting to get it. Perhaps it's a clip that comes in that's much better than its predecessors. Perhaps there's a story you've written where you realize you're on to something

    What are some of your favorite "lightbulb moments," whether they're yours or a colleagues?
     
  2. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Damn, that's a great topic.

    Mine was in my second year of stringing. My editor reamed me out about something--I think I was on autopilot or something and believing that nobody in the world could ever be better than me because I was stringing for a daily paper at 19. So he whipped me back into shape.

    Then, no lie, in the next breath he says "Get a notebook. I'm going to give you tips on keeping score at a football game. Starting tomorrow you're covering the [local high school] football team."

    With only three football-playing high schools in the area, I knew he thought highly of me and I knew that he yelled at me BECAUSE he thought highly of me. I like to think I kicked all sorts of ass on the beat...at the end of the season, I told the coach I probably wouldn't be back the next year b/c I was going away to college. He said "Could have fooled me, I figured you were 23 or 24 for sure." So that made me feel pretty good.
     
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Here's my favorite:

    One was a student writer who showed some promise was writing stories that looked like he didn't put a whole lot of effort into them. One of my full-time reporters approached me with concerns about a particular story and that led me to write a long e-mail to the student in question. I don't remember exactly what the feedback was, but one thing I remember writing was a reminder that the paper he was stringing for was a professional newspaper and that I expected that kind of effort from him.

    He did something that floored me: He thanked me PROFUSELY for the e-mail, even though it was as close to reaming someone out as I'd come up to that point. He gladly accepted the feedback, even as hard to read as I thought it might have been. However, the thing that struck me was the very next story he wrote blew me away. I read it and thought 'that's what I was looking for all along.' A few weeks later, I sent him another e-mail, but this was because one of his stories was so well done that a different reporter approached me and said "I think you should e-mail him. I wanted to read more because I enjoyed reading it." He later became one of my favorite writers at the paper. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV), he decided journalism wasn't for him.
     
  4. I think for me I get the "light bulb moment" every year when I start compiling entries for press awards. It makes me realize I'm spending way too much time on gamers and not enough on features and other "surprise the reader" stories, which is what I always enter. Of course, I always seem to fall back on the gamers...
     
  5. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    The moment i remember has nothing to do with journalism, but I've always remembered it:

    In between stints at my first paper, I was substitute teaching at the high school from which I graduated. Typical stuff, babysit the cretins and hope no one kills themselves or me.

    A girl came up to the desk and was lost on her math work. She couldn't have added two numbers together at that point, she was so frustrated. Since everyone was behaving, I told her to pull a chair up and we'd work through it.

    Before the end of the period, she said, wow, I get it now. That makes a ton of sense. I checked back later in the year with her teacher, and said she didn't know how I had gotten through to her. I didn't know either, I'm just glad I did.
     
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