I was talking to my mom last night—going through our weekly rigmarole about school, life, etc.—and I got to a point where I realized that I’m really at an upward curve in my life. I’ve gotten to the Missourian, which is a peak in itself, but I’ve also managed to grab a new part-time job and honestly, I feel like this semester is going to be a breath of fresh air for me. It’s nice to know that when I’m not in my room, I’ve got somewhere to be where people are passionate and devoted to the same thing that I am: the news. I went in today really wanting to pick something up, and right before I was thinking of leaving (bad idea, by the way), I picked up a crime pitch. Tony Lewis, one of eight defendants charged with second-degree murder and robbery, has his trial Monday, and a pre-trial preliminary was today. Duty calls, right?
Little did I know, but State v. Lewis was only one of many line-items of the 1:30 schedule. People grew restless and soft groans and laborious breathing started creeping into the public seating at around 3:00. Some tense moments between the judge and some defendants kept my blood pumping, but most of the pre-Lewis action harped on bail bonds and parole. After a hefty three hours and once the prosecuting attorney arrived, the motions began. Although I can’t say anything too dramatic occurred, I’m glad I got to cover it. It’s surprising how much you can learn about something, like the court system, when you throw yourself into a situation. Now, I’m no crime expert by any means, but I definitely have taken out more than I knew at noon today. I might have gotten a little narrative with my telling of the pretrial, but I was sure to stick with the facts. I’m glad I had Ben Nadler, a Missourian reporter who’s reported on these cases before, to help lead me through the court jargon and proceedings. I had him stick around to read my piece to make sure it made logical sense and was factual, so I give him props for being so receptive. It’s great to have someone willing to advise on a whim like that.
I also talked to Ben about how interesting it was that I got to dig a little deeper into a topic I’d never pictured myself covering so soon, because now it really does fascinate me. That’s one of the things about journalism that I love so much. (Let me fawn for a moment.) You get to talk to so many different people, experience so many things, witness so much that you’d never get the opportunity to embrace in any other profession. The “T” theory was described to us in class the other day about how to approach journalism: a journalist should know a little bit about a lot of things (the horizontal top line), but he/she should also know A LOT about one thing (the vertical line). I haven’t quite figured out what that specific is for me yet—Education? Politics? Maybe even crime someday?—but it’s the process that counts.
I’ve got such a great opportunity to learn so much about so many things, and I really hope my effort shows, because I really truly want to learn. I want to absorb. That’s not to say I’ll be a content mule. I want to produce good, solid journalism. I also want to report on many things (which is partially a reason why I really wanted to get the education beat; I’m interested in it but I knew that if I could focus on it, I could learn so much more). But I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive. I think you can be a good reporter on many things and a GREAT reporter on a few things you love to cover. And I think the Missourian will help me find that path, or at least put me in the right direction.