Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Journalism Mode

For the past few weeks, I've been heavily into journalism mode.

Well, heavily here is a relative term. Let's just say it's the heaviest I've been in journalism mode for more than a year now. It feels kinda good.

I've made no secrets here about my butt-first exit from the world of newspaper journalism in 2005. That's a world that, for the most part, I don't miss. But just because one doesn't write for a newspaper any more doesn't mean that one forgets the skills, challenges and thrill -- yes, thrill -- of reporting and writing a good story. The one in particular is about an off-road racer, a story we'll run at Uncharted later this week. I'm looking forward to seeing it in etheral ink.

I have learned a few things:
  • My notes still don't have much of a shelf life beyond 24 hours, because of the patented Davidson shorthand I use, and because my hands typically cramp up as I write.
  • I still dont' like typing as I interview, especially over the phone, because I'm an active, fast typist and the clack of the keyboard tends to get picked up and heard by the interviewee, and it's distracting.
  • My 24-hour statute of readable notes was tested -- and I passed -- when I left my notes first over the weekend to gel because I wasn't ready to write the story, and then over another weekend because I managed to leave them on my desk at work.
  • On feature stories, I still like showing the subject the story before it goes into print. I know with the web that if a mistake is noticed afterward, it's not as onerous to fix, but still, I like things to be correct. Also, it gives the interviewee a chance to react either positively or negatively to the story beforehand, so he or she is not surprised when it gets in "print."
I've also learned that my distaste for working for newspapers hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for reporting a fun story. I learned a lot, got to talk to some interesting people, and didn't have anyone breathing over my shoulder about the whole thing. Writing journalistically can still be fun, and that's a breakthrough considering how much I detested journalistic writing come April Fools Day 2005. Brr. I still get shivers thinking about it. 2005 will long be remembered in the Davidson household as the Year When Everything Sucked.

But I'm not going to dwell on that. I'm thrilled to find out that I still love to craft a good story. That gives me hope on some of the other writing endeavors I've currently got simmering on the stove.

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