A reporter, not just a writer

In the previous weeks at the Missourian and especially with my most recent story, I’ve been learning the differences between being a writer AND a reporter. Having a somewhat extensive background in writing, I feel rather comfortable in this realm. What I’ve been exposed to recently however, is the reporting aspect of journalism, where I lack the experience.

Before coming to the Missourian, I had little actual “reporting” skills. This includes asking detailed questions, not forgetting to ask certain or specific questions, and asking questions that may seem obvious. So far I’ve been able to get by despite forgetting to ask some questions such as a person’s title or position. But I know I cannot continue to do this.

There is a difference between a reporter and a writer. Reporting requires being able to think on your feet and asking those questions you didn’t expect to ask. It includes gathering all the details and not making assumptions. This aspect of reporter and writer is something I wish had been communicated to me earlier. Well maybe it was, but it didn’t stick until actually doing the work.

It’s a work in progress. With each story I feel I’m getting better at asking the detailed questions, but it’s a technique that can only come with experience.

Especially with this story on the volunteers of the Methodist Church, I could have asked volunteer’s roles in the church or what church they attend. Instead, I did not and I feel it showed. I was really proud of the story and thought it read well, but having these specific details could have added to the personalization of each character in the story.

To learn to synthesize writing and reporting; a journalist’s most unique and arduous skill.

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