THE MARRIAGE OF PRODUCTIVITY AND SELF-AWARENESS IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC #J4450

Hey, blog.

I didn’t have class today, which was somewhat nice because I got to sleep later than I am used to! So instead of breaking down what I learned today, I am going to share some ~personal reflection~ with y’all.

Yes, I am a journalist. But I am also a college student. I was settled into my routine, my sense of independence, and my ability to know myself and structure my environment in a way where I would be the most productive. I had my friends close, and spending time with them was a much-needed laugh and mental break from my work-related responsibilities.

The coronavirus has changed, well, all of that. And I have had a lot of conversations with people about how all they complain about is not having time, and now we have SO MUCH time, but they have suddenly become less productive. They don’t understand it and also feel guilty about it.

I am also going through this. I know when it is time to buckle down and grind out a project or a story, and I don’t have a problem doing so, but I know I am not being as productive as I can at school. I think a part of that was finding my new routine at home, in my high school bedroom that usually means I am on break. But it is a routine that is different and not as ideal as my one at school.

I think people struggle with cutting themselves some slack. This is a major world event that we are going through, and frankly, it sucks for everyone. So many people have it worse than others and I feel fortunate that I am not dealing with this issue closer to home, but it does impact everyone in some way. And the mourning or sadness or sudden decrease in productivity you experience is valid and normal! So I am trying to set boundaries for myself and attempting to be more actively aware of how I am feeling and what I need to stay sane while getting things done. And that’s something that has really helped me so far!

I have my next GA shift tomorrow and am working on some other stories, so I am hoping I will have a good week with that. See y’all soon!

PRESSING ON#J4450

Hi, blog!

I am just popping in to write a quick something about a story I did the other day related to everyone’s favorite newsworthy topic, COVID-19.

There is an equestrian center in Columbia that was bringing two of their miniature ponies around to local neighborhoods, dressed in full unicorn attire. They were doing so to brighten people’s days during a scary time. According to their description, they were following social distancing practices by only going yard to yard and not letting anyone pet the horses.

But not everyone was in agreeance that this idea was beneficial for the community. Someone anonymously reported the business to the Boone County Health Department, and the pony program was promptly ordered to cease their in-person operations.

Many people were mad.  Some were grateful, saying it was what was best to slow the spread. But the core thing about this story that stood out to me is how they adapted their mission to spread cheer during this pandemic.

They decided to do virtual pony appointments for all families who wanted to participate. Out of all of the ways Zoom is being utilized right now, for business meetings, conference calls, and virtual happy hours, I think signing on to stare at a horse wearing a unicorn horn has got to be the best use of your computer’s webcam.

It brightened my spirits to see how this program was able to think on its feet and shift their methods to accommodate for COVID-19 conditions. I love stories like that!

That’s all for now. Be back soon!

 

ELABORATE ON THAT, WOULD YOU?#J4450

Hey blog.

Happy Sunday. I hope it was filled with good weather and relaxation, as I know mine was.

This post is related to politics and journalism in a way, but it starts with something a little closer to home. This weekend, I was with my friends having a casual evening. We baked a cake, watched a movie, typical stuff. And then we started talking about politics.

It’s election season, so our ads are dominated by political campaigns and the headlines are filled with updates on Democratic candidates, new presidential policies, and more. It’s hard to miss and even harder not to think about.

Most of my friends are pretty similar in political views. We tend to migrate to the middle, some more right-leaning, and some more left-leaning. But as we were having a very mature discussion on political issues (yay us), we started talking about something that got me thinking about journalism.

As college students, we are very wrapped up in our own worlds. We try to stay up to date and informed on political issues, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really know what’s going on and even harder to know what candidate to vote for. That’s a void I think journalism can fill with the right approach.

Vox, for example, does a great job of putting out explanatory pieces on current issues in the world, political and beyond. They’re a great resource for me when I want to know more about something. I think those kinds of pieces would be especially helpful during election season because it would keep people up to date and also let us make our own choices about candidates based on a full explanation of both viewpoints on an issue. And this doesn’t just go for college kids. A lot of people want to be informed but are so daunted by the task of hunting for information about these issues that they choose to sit election season out. If journalism wants to encourage political participation, we need to do a better job of explaining all the avenues.

Journalism is supposed to inform the public, and I think an increase of explanatory journalism would provide the public with quality coverage on the stuff that matters as opposed to the constant horserace coverage we see today. I personally think that horserace coverage has its time, but needs a sisterly companion of explanation by its side every once and a while.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more pieces like this, as I love them and think they’re a great resource for people who are trying to open their mind to different viewpoints.

A new week starts tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s a good one!

ASK ME ANYTHING #J4450

Hey, blog.

It’s Super Tuesday! I hope everyone made it out to a polling place today if it was your election day. Missouri’s primary isn’t until the 10th, so I have a ways to go. I still get notifications about Texas elections, even though I am ~technically~ no longer a resident. Every time I have to unsubscribe or change a setting it makes me die a little inside.

Speaking of elections, we talked about something somewhat upsetting in class today.

A few years ago, a Missourian reporter was at a local polling place asking people what brought them out to vote that day. That isn’t a dangerous assignment by any means at first glance, it’s in broad daylight in a public place and an event that’s important to the community.

But this reporter was verbally harassed, intimidated, and spat at during her time there. She left feeling shaken and sad, which I don’t blame her for. I am certain I would feel the same way.

The person that did this to her did so because they hated journalists. They don’t trust us and think we are up to no good, following a secret agenda with no regard for the real truth. And although that occasion is extreme, it reveals a troubling sentiment from the public about journalism.

A lot of people don’t really know how we work or what we do. They don’t know about the research, the interviewing, the follow-up questions, and beyond that we do when we cover something. And their suspicion of the process, especially when it relates to politics, leads to a lack of trust.

So how do we fix that? That’s what our professor asked us today. When it’s someone who is being aggressive towards you, the best strategy is usually to disengage. Safety is the number one priority when there is concern about a physical threat. But what about the people who are just suspicious?

What are you going to use this for? Don’t all journalists (insert false statement here)?

Actually, no.

If someone has questions or doubts about the journalism process and you feel like you can, stop and chat with them. Tell them about the process, about what you’re doing out there. Try and let them know you are just observing, and are willing to answer any questions they might have for you about the process of formulating a story.

If you create an open dialogue, you can hopefully clear up any confusion about the journalistic process and create a sense of understanding and trust between reporters and readers.

It’s safe to say I learned a lot in class today. In “other news”, I am also working on a new story that I am already excited about. It’s a complete 180 from my previous work with the Missourian, but I am looking forward to seeing where it goes!

Bye for now.

WHEN A WRITER’S VOICE SHINES THROUGH #J4450

Hey, blog!

I am coming off of my latest general assignment shift, which was yesterday. I did two stories about two very different things, a murder case and an after-school program at a local elementary school. Talk about opposite sides of the spectrum! But I had a really great day working with other reporters, so I am content with this shift under my belt.

In class today we talked about leads, everyone’s favorite thing that’s simultaneously the bane of their existence. Leads are so important because you want to tell the reader what’s happening, but also draw them into the story.

For me, leads are my favorite thing even though they challenge me. One of the things I am really proud of as a writer is my creativity, but I often feel like I need to stunt my “vocabulary urges” for the sake of hard news and AP style. I was overjoyed when we talked about using creativity and vibrant verbs in leads today because that’s what I want to do!

I want my personality to come off in my writing and I feel as though readers connect with these kinds of stories more. As my professor said, a really good lead has a clear sense of the writer’s voice shining through.

Going forward, I am always going to remind myself to use that creativity and read my lead a couple times over to evaluate if I could make it snappier.

Finishing off the week feeling good and excited to dive into my next story!