Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My first day as a GA Reporter

This semester I will be writing for the Daily Universe as part of my Comms 321 lab experience. Later today I will be assigned to a beat. Yesterday, we were advised that we would have a better chance of getting on a particular desk (metro, campus, sports, arts and entertainment) if we volunteered to cover a story before being assigned to a beat. Thus, yesterday and today I am a general assignment reporter by my own choice. I volunteered on the Metro desk because thats the desk I really want to write for. It would give me a chance to interact in the community as a regular reporter, rather than covering campus news.

One of my initial thoughts as I began thinking about the story assigned to me (Obama and Mormon approval ratings) was, "Well, I have no contacts because I'm not assigned to a specific beat." Already I am feeling the necessity of contacts and connections with people in the beat. I see how relationship building will be essential. 

I had no idea where to go with my story. There was a Gallup poll recently released about Obama's approval rating among the major religions in the country, and Mormons had the lowest rating, at 24% approval. I asked my editor what exactly I should do. She said to get the reaction of some students. Its a reaction piece. It will be 12-15 inches. I haven't even been oriented on the software we use to format our stories, so I'm relatively clueless on how long 12-15 inches is. My editor said it is about a half page single spaced. Roughly.

One of the DU advisors talked about dressing professionally for interviews. She said they have had people call into the DU and complain about how sloppy the reporters were when they showed up for an interview. Independently, earlier yesterday I felt that if I am going to be approaching people for the paper, I should look slightly more professional then the average college student. So I tried to dress a little more nice today for my interviews. 

I dont feel official yet. I'll get my press pass later today (hopefully) and then I will feel better. Anyone can just walk up to you and say "Hi I'm a reporter for ______ paper. Tell me what I want to know" and it just seems like your source just has to trust you. And I mean, granted, fabricating a press pass probably wouldn't be so hard. But I would just like one to feel more legit. 

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