Okay, I want to jump right into what I was writing about in Part 1…a few of the blocks that make up the foundation of journalism. (A refresher: storytelling, curiosity, skepticism.)
I went to Iowa a few weekends ago. A group of about 20 radio-tv students made the trip to Des Moines to visit KCCI, the number one station in its market, and a very well-know local news station in ‘the business’. People respect it for lots of reasons. It’s got a great ownership group that is willing and able to spend money to pursue stories. The news director is committed to going after the kind of stories that engage and entertain the public.
It was a great trip for me because the station was a refreshing contrast to the bleary picture often painted by reporters negatively affected by shakeups in the industry. The journalists we met seemed genuinely happy. We even ran into a Mizzou grad, which is becoming less surprising…they’re everywhere! She was great. She let a few of us sit in on an interview with her. The interview is my favorite part of reporting so I loved it. Here’s the background…A man called in because one of the biggest stories that week was about a woman whose abusive husband killed her. The murder happened despite a restraining order and repeated attempts by the victim to escape the situation. The caller wanted to talk about domestic violence and share his thoughts on why the system isn’t working. He argued that the building pressure on the Iowa legislature to restrict gun rights for domestic violence offenders was pointless, because in his opinion, if a man wants to harm his wife, girlfriend, or whomever…a piece of paper isn’t going to stop it. Why? Because it didn’t stop him from almost killing his ex-wife. He shared his personal history of domestic abuse, including the standoff situation he was a part of a few years ago. He held his then-wife hostage with a butcher knife to her throat for a few hours before police convinced him to let her go.
The reporter pursued the interview, despite being 6 months pregnant and a little hesitant to invite the 7-time convicted felon within arms length. She recognized that just like people need food, water, and oxygen, they also need a voice. I think that’s what drives powerful storytelling. That’s why journalists keep going after the tough stories…despite bad ownership groups, nasty news directors and salaries that don’t suggest college degrees.
I get to be part of the club that gives voice to the voiceless. That’s why I look forward to talking to people whatever their title might be. Senator, felon, orphan, survivor, sister…they all get the same thing from me...the opportunity to share their story. A time to share their voice. I can’t wait.
Stay tuned for curiosity and skepticism,