My semester as a Missourian reporter is wrapping up, and — I might be alone in this — I think it went by so quickly. I expected to kind of drag along this semester, crushed by stories and assignments and interviews and never-ending General Assignment shifts. That’s what I’d heard it would be like, and that’s what the Missourian tells you it will be like. I’m pretty sure at orientation in August someone was like, “You will drown this semester, but you’ll probably get through it.” My editor fully expected most people on my beat to cry in her office at one point. It’s propped up like THE SEMESTER THAT WILL KILL YOU, but it really won’t. I’m not saying I haven’t learned a ton since August. I have. I’m not saying the Missourian hasn’t occasionally beaten me down. It has. But it’s more good than bad. So here’s some stuff I learned, and some stuff I didn’t.
- how to balance Reporter Me with Person Me, and that’s it’s okay that I can’t be completely one without the other.
- that being unbiased is not the same as being indifferent.
- to be nicer to sources. Not that I was mean before, but — and I’m blaming The Maneater for this one — I used to be more rigid when talking to sources. I wasn’t mean, I don’t think, but I think I closed myself off to sources when it would’ve been easier and better to build a relationship with them.
- I shouldn’t get caught up in one story. Sometimes that story doesn’t happen. And then there’s a month’s worth of work that doesn’t turn into a byline. You gotta multitask.
- it’s cool to not be Number One. Once I stopped worrying about being great, I got greater.
- it’s okay to lay on my futon and watch Parks and Rec eating way too much mashed potatoes after a GA shift. No one has to know (until now, um)
- don’t be afraid to make connections with people I think are way, way too cool for me. It took me almost the whole semester, but Jacqui Banazynski knows my name now and that is enough for me. ALSO everyone she is so nice just email her already
And there’s a few things I still need to work on:
- I’m really bad at taking down quotes without a recorder. That’s why I record everything, but it has made AC’ing on the spot really hard. I’m getting better at it when I have the person on the phone (USE HEADPHONES why I didn’t start doing this years ago I will never know), but in-person I still need some work.
- Speaking up in press conferences. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid to talk in a crowd or because I’m afraid other reporters will judge my questions, but I’ve never asked a question at a press conference.
- Still not too great at narrative structure. Like I think my story about Josie Herrera, MU’s first genderqueer Homecoming King, could have been less newsy and more of a “story.” But the story about Brady Deaton’s retirement was very narrative, so I might have just not been ready for that style when I wrote about Josie.
- I NEVER WROTE A LIFE STORY. Is this a blessing or a curse? I don’t know.
- I still get the unsettling feeling that I’m faking it. I know we’re supposed to “fake it till we make it,” but what if I wake up one morning and realize I just never made it and have faked my way through everything?
Good news is that I still have a bunch of time to work on everything I’m not completely comfortable with. This has probably been my best semester of college so far, and I love that I can say that.