Losing Steam

Before this semester, I’ve never really kept track of how far into the year we are or how many weeks are left until the next big break. This year, oh how it’s changed.

The main reason for this, to be quite honest, is because by sending in weekly pitches to my editor, I actually do have to keep track on what week we’re on.

Other than that, it’s just been a long, exhausting — albeit educational — ride.

The good thing that’s come out of the repetitively stressful weeks is that I’ve started to get into the swing of things. Quitting my second job to drop from 20+ hours per week down to 8 hours per week has undoubtedly helped with my stress levels and being able to fully concentrate on my student career as a growing journalist.

At the beginning of October, I was generally juggling three to four stories with event-tied deadlines at any given point. The last week, however, it seems things have almost come to a standstill.

Last Wednesday was the first general assignment shift where I didn’t get a story. I ended up working on some of my community stories, however, so it wasn’t a total loss.

I have a couple stories in the works at the moment, but I’m having a bit of a hard time figuring out how to make them both central to the Columbia readership. One is about a woman who was born and raised here and now works as a missionary in Uganda for a non-profit she helped found called Fount of Mercy. It’s a really great story and gathering the information from my subjects came naturally. However, since she is half-way around the world and the organization doesn’t really have any ties to the local community, other than the fact that one of the founders grew up here, the article is on hold until I can find a reason why the readership would care about this story.

The second is also about someone who spent their childhood and worked in Columbia. I met Todd at a Boy Scouts meeting in downtown Columbia back in early September. As soon as he told me that he was a professional poker player, I knew I wanted to interview him about his career. During our interview (which ended up being six weeks later and two hours of recorded material), I realized that, again, this subject might be a stretch to make it into the Missourian.

On top of all of that, my multimedia story has been dragged out because of scheduling conflicts. Lauren and I are hoping to finish it up next weekend when the Boyers are back in Columbia. I feel like it can’t come soon enough. I’m just really ready to put together all this great information and material I’ve been sitting on for what feels like the whole semester (I mean, it really kind of has been since I first found this story the second week of classes).

I’ve more or less taken a temporary break from constantly stressing about reporting. I realize that I needed to take some time to recollect, especially after my last three articles kind of flashed by in a whirlwind of scheduling interviews and reporting and writing and editing. I have the previously mentioned projects to work on, though those might again be put on the sidelines because of a new story I’m working on.

Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Ed Ailor III. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of William Least Heat-Moon’s book “Blue Highways,” he ventured with his son on the same 14,000 mile route across the country that was detailed in the book’s journey. He’s giving a presentation at the public library on November 12, so this is another one I’ll have to push out in a pretty quick manner on top of the other stories that are lying low in my queue. I am pretty excited about this story and think it has a lot of potential. We’ll see if I can pick up the pace in the final stretch of the semester.

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