Welcome summer reporters!

It’s not quite summer yet on the calendar, but already the pace in Columbia has slowed and here you are ready to roll as a reporter. Where will the stories come from?

In my experience, they come from many sources. Thinking back on the work that makes me most proud, I can cite a wide variety of starting points:

  • a phoned-in tip
  • some documents that arrived in the mail
  • an offhand comment heard at a professional conference
  • long-term observation and reporting of a complicated subject
  • a follow-up on a five-year-old story that made me wonder, “Whatever happened to…?”
  • a Freedom of Information Act request
  • cultivating a great source as part of beat reporting
  • a Tweet or a Facebook post.

Use technology, like RSS, alerts and Twitter to find out what other people are reporting on a subject you need to know about. Read professional journals and newsletters. Look closely at organization’s websites, and get on listservs.

First step, though? Notice what you notice. And notice yourself observing. Think. Read. Eavesdrop. Gather. Talk (about your idea with your friends or colleagues or an editor). Read more. Then report.

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