Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The day the storm came: We had a great view of the deluge outside.

Better late than never: Here are two photos from my trip two weeks ago to Miami. I tried posting them several days ago, but BloggerBot and Picasa were not working in sync.

Whew, what a day: One thing I like about my job is that things can change on a dime. When news happens, you jump. When I came to work this morning, I already had a full schedule: interviewing sources and writing and editing several news stories, whose subjects range from tech funding to the start-up of a new magazine for high school athletes.

Then I got tagged by the managing editor to cover the recent fatal school shooting in Minnesota. I dropped everything.

I write for a national newspaper that's a bit of a hybrid as we cover both breaking news and analysis as well as magazine-length features. We are a weekly, but also write daily stories for our website. We already had a brief news piece on the shootings, but as more news unfolded today, my editors wanted me to write a longer, more detailed story.

At 10:30 a.m. I was making phone calls, such as to FBI headquarters here in Washington, D.C and to the Minnesota FBI field office. Then I pow-wowed quickly with a few editors and a colleague about the story, then back to the phones and computer keyboard.

By 3 p.m., after a mad flurry of typing, cursing and slamming down the phone, I had my story written and was waiting to see if my editor had questions. By 3:30, the story was on the web. I felt like I was back at my old daily newspaper, although the turn-around was even faster than that. My daily deadlines were at 5 p.m. It was almost like writing for a news service, where you have hourly deadlines.

On second thought: It reminds me of when I was covering night meetings by the local gov't board when I was a daily reporter, and especially when I was an intern. The low man on the totem pole had to cover these meetings, which were often grueling in their tedium and in the quick turn-around necessary. But good news was often ensconced in all the bureacratic gunk.

The meeting would be over by, say, 9:30 p.m., and after a bit more interviewing, I'd drive like a bat out of hell to my bureau 15 miles away on a two-lane road to file my story by 10:30 p.m. If I didn't, a very grumpy old-style news editor would curse eloquently at me over the phone line.

So I had to have a very clear picture of the news and present it as concisely as possible. I often composed the lede out loud while driving, as well as outlined my story.

It was great training for a news reporter. Those kind of deadlines hone your ability to focus, think logically, and write like a laser beam. Either that, or fail miserably and get fired.

Anyway, writing the web story was the easy part. Now I have to write a more in-depth, analytical piece on the shootings for our print newspaper. Lots more phone calls and interviews to a slew of folks across the country. For that, my deadline is Thursday. I'm trying to figure out which way the story is going, as there are several different angles. (If you want to see the web story, e-mail me and I'll send you the link.)

Oh, and remember the other stories I was working on before I got reeled into the school shooting story? I still have to file those, too. But that's all right - I thrive on deadline.

Running Update: I was supposed to go to my first track work-out this morning at 6:30. But I just couldn't get up. I slept through my alarm and didn't wake up until 7 a.m. Oops. Usually, I'm not this flaky. Of course, it didn't help that I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before, so no wonder my body just refused to wake up.

Yesterday, I did a killer kick-boxing class. The teacher was on the U.S. Olympics kickboxing team. Who knew there was one?! Anyway, he had us doing crescent kicks, jumping sidekicks, upper-cuts, roundhouses, you name it. My lats and arms are really sore today.

And so were my hamstrings. They screamed at me during my 3.5 mile interval run tonight. I was going to run 5 miles, but the colleague I was with didn't have time, and I still had to go back in the office and finish fact-checking two stories anyway.

1 comment:

  1. You have a hectic schedule but it sounds wonderful and exciting. Kickboxing is great cross training.