You’re going to get a lot of advice in the next week or two about how to succeed at the Missourian and Vox, how you should get a fast start, jump in, push back your fears, make the newsroom your “default” location.
Recently, though, I was talking to an advanced reporting student who just came back from a very successful internship at a well-known U.S. newspaper. And we were talking about how improving at reporting requires a certain number of “reps,” and the more you do, the better you get. And it’s hard at first because it uses muscles you didn’t even know you had. But then you get stronger and it gets easier.
“YOU HAVE TO SAY THIS TO THE NEW REPORTERS!” she shouted at me.
Okay, so here it is: Think of the Missourian or Vox as “the gym.” You don’t always love to go to the gym, I’m guessing. Maybe you never go to the gym, but you know you should.
Force yourself to go. Pick up the phone. Make that call. Go out the door with your notebook and smartphone and talk to that human being in person. Then talk to more. Come on back (grab a sandwich on the way). Do some research, talk to your editor, and then go do some more.
Next thing you know, you’ll have something you’re proud of — something you want to share with people who care about the subject. Plus your friends and family. Something to post on your blog. “This is me, reporter.”
Then do it again. Before long, it will be eaaaaaaasy to come in and get to work and talk to strangers and find what you’re looking for and get people to call you back (because they’ve seen your work and it’s good and they trust you).