Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Details, details, details

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Warner, my professor's former editor at the Philadelphia Daily News. He's one of those hardcore editors, a newspaperman who has been in the business for many years. He's worked at so many different publications in so many different cities, and he's still doing it today. It was refreshing to connect with someone like that again. The old-schoolers are some of my favorite people — they're journalists through and through.

One of the things Dave told us really stuck with me. He said it was a quote he had heard from a colleague and always kept it in mind:

“A good reporter is someone who is constantly astounded by the perfectly obvious.”

When I heard it, I immediately understood exactly what it means. The way I see it, it means there are stories, details, fascinating things all around us at all times. A true reporter is always be on look-out for these minute details that most people overlook.

When I asked Dave about some ways he comes up with story ideas, I realized I already knew. It's about being aware of your surroundings, questioning everything and simply being "astounded by the perfectly obvious."

It's part of my nature to be detail-oriented and to wonder what every little thing is and how it all works. Even on some of my worst days — dark days when I question whether I even want to be a journalist anymore — I know this is what I'm meant to do. It's what I'm good at. It's just how I'm built.

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