You’re about to take the plunge into a completely different kind of class. Come to think of it, “class” might not be the best way to describe the experience you’re about to have. You’re about to become a reporter, with lots of help from lots of people. If you’ve done a little reporting before, that’s great. If you haven’t, do not despair: You’re not alone. And we won’t let you fail.
Unless you don’t meet us halfway.
What do I mean by that? As Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”
Showing up, in the context of the reporting class, means doing more than just occupying a seat in the newsroom or in class or on assignment. It means really being present, paying attention, and thinking, thinking, thinking. It means: asking for help when you need it, after you’ve done as much as you can on your own:
- (very carefully) reading (not “skimming”) the previous reporting on the topic you’re covering and taking notes on it
- making a list of the people you need to talk to and research you need to read
- making another list of all the questions you need to ask and checking them off, one by one.
Showing up — being present and prepared — will allow us to help you do really well in reporting and walk away with the kind of experience (and clips) you came here to get.
This is the Missouri Method. It’s not just marketing. It really works. If you don’t believe me, I can give you the phone numbers of about 20 people you can talk to — former students — and some of them have already won Pulitzer Prizes. Ask them if this whole thing works.
You might want to know what not showing up looks like:
- Not showing up. I mean, like, physically, because you’re afraid of this whole reporting thing. Understandable, but self-destructive
- Not paying attention in class or in our morning meeting
- Not volunteering for stories
- Not taking advice from editors
- Not making to-do lists
- Not writing down what people tell you
- Not using social media to share your work, others’ work, thoughts and ideas
- Not coming into the newsroom with ideas
- Not thinking like a reporter (“Hey, that might be a story!”).
Good luck. It’s going to be waaaay more fun than you think.