The thing about being a reporter that people who aren’t reporters (or J-school students) don’t realize is just how much work it is. There’s:
- Coming up with a story idea
- Pitching said story idea
- Getting said story idea approved
- Doing research
- Looking for interviewees (experts and stakeholders)
- Getting in touch with said interviewees
- Interviewing said interviewees
- Doing more research
- Repeating steps 5, 6 & 7 at least four times (depending on one’s deadline)
- Doing MORE research
- Writing a draft
- Tossing out said draft
- Repeating steps 11 & 12 at least 10 times (again, this is deadline-dependent)
- Turning in said draft
- Weeping over editor’s comments about said draft
- Rewriting said draft (although at this point it’s probably already a different draft)
- Fact-checking said draft by doing EVEN MORE research
- Repeating step 14
- Praying that said draft doesn’t come back with more edits and that everything’s accurate
- And getting published. Maybe.
Now imagine doing all of that in a place where you don’t speak the language. It makes for a challenging, frustrating, heartbreaking, exciting and absolutely fulfilling experience. To say the least. And a week into it, I can already kind of picture myself doing this for a long, long time.
Yesterday I turned in my first story (a piece on street art, which should be up sometime today on this site, WOOT!), after spending the last week doing all of the steps listed above. Monday was my most exciting reporting day – my classmate Julia and I ventured into the far reaches of the city, where we discovered walls covered in art and graffiti and ultimately found ourselves at the University of Salamanca’s College of Fine Arts.
We randomly approached a student named Ana (Habla Ingles? is becoming my slogan), who led us to her classroom (which was really a studio) and introduced us to a bunch of people. One of them, Pablo, turned out to be fluent in English – and with his help, we were able to get some muy interesante interviews with (hot) Spanish art students. Good times.
We then managed to run back to our class’ HQ, where I interviewed an art expert through Skype (he’s based in Pennsylvania). Afterward, it was time to buck up and write, and by 10:00 p.m. last night (I’m totally shortening this long-winded tale) I was able to turn in my final draft.
My point is, I loved every minute of it – even the parts that were frustrating, annoying and outright depressing. I can’t wait to see my first story (and everyone else’s!) up on the site.
Meanwhile, on to the next one!