Advanced or Beginning Reporting?

*Note: These are posts from the Fall 2012 Advanced Reporting Blog. They will now also be posted here. Originally published August 24, 2012.

You can call me an, “advanced reporter” now, but it sure hasn’t felt like it yet. Moving from the education beat to the public life beat has been quite a change. So much so, that I feel it’s like starting beginning reporting all over again. I’ve had to familiarize myself with all city and county government resources. Especially how to find information online open to the public.

Covering education, I don’t think I used one spreadsheet to analyze data. Much of the reporting was feature and profile writing. So I can’t tell you how many times this past week I’ve heard of some tax or government policy term and had no idea what it meant.

I switched beats because I wanted to take advantage of all the chances the Missourian has to offer before I graduate. I’m just now getting started on the topic of Enhanced Enterprise Zones, or EEZs. This has been a much bigger topic than I first expected and as a result, haven’t yet published anything. But it appears this is how Advanced Reporting goes.

What looks to be the struggle with EEZs is getting people to give me correct and useful information (instead of bureaucratic jargon). I’ve received a lot of feedback from the previous reporters who covered this topic and this was one of their biggest struggles. Obtaining good and useful information from the Department of Economic Development seemed to give them the biggest challenge.

But the best piece of advice I have received so far was about going out and finding REAL people. People who live in these neighborhoods that could be effected by EEZs and present a human perspective. I hear this all the time from superiors at the Missourian, but like with many things, it seems to stick even more when you hear it from a colleague.

After being away from the Missourian for almost nine months and working in public radio, getting back into the print mindset will be a challenge. Which is why I’ve dubbed my the class “Advabeginning reporting.”

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