Consider this anecdote about checklists (it’s from an article in Bloomberg Businessweek):
In 1935 the (B-17) bomber crashed on its first test flight because it proved too complex for the skilled test pilot to manage. The U.S. Army Air Corp ordered planes from Douglas instead, and Boeing nearly went bankrupt. But some test pilots believed in the B-17. They came up with a takeoff checklist to guide a pilot through all the crucial steps to get the plane airborne. Checklists in hand, pilots went on to fly the B-17 for more than 1.8 million miles without an accident. The army ultimately ordered 13,000 B-17s, giving the U.S. a decisive air advantage in World War II. And pilot checklists became universal.
I’m a big believer in checklists. Whenever we can, we should make them for processes. And for you, there’s a process beginning as you start working as a reporter. Your beat editor, the ACEs and other people — including me — will be telling you things you ought to do to get started quickly as a reporter and do a good job (get a good grade).
That’s why we created The New Reporter’s Checklist. Print this and check the tasks off as you complete them. It will get you airborne as fast and efficiently as possible. Have a nice trip.
* Your editor will check to see whether you’ve completed this checklist at the first grading session, so you might as well get it done.