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How to survive 225

The title makes it seem like this course is horrible, which it’s not. I just went with it because it rhymed.

The biggest piece of advice that I have for any one looking to have a great deal of success in this class is knowing how to balance your time.

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Remind yourself of upcoming due dates and get assignments done in advance, like way in advance.

There are several reasons why I say this, but I’ll quickly give you two pieces of advice.

  1. The sources you wish to talk to don’t care about your schedule. They don’t care if your car just broke down. They don’t care if you just got fired from your job. They don’t care if you spilled your morning coffee all of yourself before drinking it. Bottom line- contact your sources immediately and follow-up with them as soon as they respond to your inquiry so you can plan a time to talk and meet with them. When I reached out to certain businesses, I would become frustrated because the owner was never there or the employee was stressed from my call if it was a busy time of day for them. What I came to acknowledge is that they were running a business and I was at their mercy. I needed them more than they needed me. So, plan accordingly and expect to be rejected five times before getting accepted once.
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2. Make your position and purpose very clear when you meet with your sources. Some people will find it comforting that they have a pair of ears listening to them and will get you so off topic you’ll have to pull them back in and remind them why you’re there. This happened several times to me. I tend to think it’s out of security and the idea that they felt safe within their own four walls of their business. This also correlates with the moments when they turn and say, “You’re still recording this?” or “keep this off record”, “don’t repeat this.” I experienced many of these situations in my time reporting for this class and was surprised that I was being asked if I was still recording when I held the recorder in my hand and told them what I would be doing. Although moments like this are awkward and a bit frustrating, you have to respect what your source requests in most instances. It makes reporting difficult at times when your source tells you something worthwhile and they turn and say, “turn that off already” or “you don’t need to record this.” Along with stating your purpose in meeting with your source, make it clear what your position is. Tell them your name, your grade level, that you attend SCSU and what you plan on doing while you’re there. Some sources will insist that they know what you’re going to ask them days before an interview, but reject this. Tell them that it’s important to not sound scripted and that an interview should be relaxed and natural. Another thing I realized very quickly is that being a female in this field is difficult.

Image courtesy of cnn.com

The first business I reported on was great. Interesting products, genuinely good people and an opportunity to see how responsive business owners are to a college student looking to accomplish something.

Everything was great, up until one of my sources starting saying things like, “You’re pretty, do you want to be a reporter on TV?” or “You have really white teeth, you’d be great as an anchor.” He also called me cute a number of times.

I do realize these comments are not inappropriate and they were completely innocent. However, I don’t know if I would receive the same treatment or get those comments if I was a guy. I don’t mean to pull the sexist card, but I mean really…it would be nice to set out to do the same thing as a man and not experience comments that I don’t know how to respond to or avoid without walking away and losing my source.

So, ladies, stand up for yourself when you’re reporting and know when to tell some one that what they’re saying to you is making you feel uncomfortable or remind them why you’re there. You could even say something like, “I wanted to write a great story about your business, not about you hitting on a college-aged woman.” If they tell you off, great. Walk out with your head held high and find a new story.

In essence, I guess I wanted to share my reporting experiences with you ladies and gentleman and advise you to get assignments done ahead of time, so you can stay on top of them and not fall behind.

This class teaches you a lot about the reality of journalism today, how you can build stories using several different media platforms, how to utilize forums that are free and easy, and how to deal with everyday people who have different personalities and different schedules. It teaches you to be conscious of others and that reporting can be rewarding in most cases. Be timely, be respectful and get your work done.

Good luck!

Image on left courtesy of Estonianworld.com, Image on right courtesy of Pinterest.
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