Finding the Story: Part II

Couldn’t get an interview so the front page is me complaining about how no one will give me interviews

Good news! The words ‘Original News Story’ don’t cause the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up anymore. I get assignments and look forward to them instead of fearing them, I don’t know if it’s a false sense of security or if I might actually be learning how to adapt to this industry.

Not to say there aren’t a few hiccups.

Coming up with stories is easy enough now, when you start to think like a journalist, there are stories everywhere. A harder task might be to weed out the ones which are truly newsworthy, but it’s still slowly becoming a habit. The biggest obstacle — getting people to talk.

The last thing I want to be is that obnoxious stereotype of the journalist who will do anything for a story, leaving ethics and manners at the door. At the same time, no story would ever reach the public if we were scared of approaching potential sources. But there’s a fine line to cross, and I find myself frustrated when I don’t know how to toe it. And I know it’s not right to press an employee of a company with strict media relations rules, but going through the proper channels leads to emails unanswered and voicemails unheard.

The next best strategy is to ‘cold-call’, show up where the story is and try to get an interview there. It works sometimes, I have classmates who’ve had amazing material come out of spontaneous interviews. I was hoping to achieve similar results when I arrived on the UBC campus with some questions for a news story, but all I got was an email address I could try. Not so helpful.

All hope was not lost though — I may not have gotten the quote I thought I wanted, but just by being there, I ran into a student who was able to give me her perspective, one I never thought I’d be able to get. And from her answers, I have an entirely new angle for my story. To this day I can’t believe how lucky I was, if I’d picked a different day, a different campus, I wouldn’t have the story I do.

So maybe that’s the real trick to being a journalist. Find the ethical line, know what story you want to write and also hope you get really, really lucky.