Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Professional at Work

This will be a snark-free post about Mainstream Media reporters. As mentioned, we have media passes to the NRA convention here in Louisville. We set in one of the press areas and a professional reporter came in about the middle of the program and plugged in his laptop, got his digital recorder ready, checked e-mail, and a few other quotidian things.

I am going to confess now that was I totally and unabashedly rude. In fact, if Mr. Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune reads this, I apologize now. I looked over his shoulder and watched how a professional crafts a news story. It was fascinating.

He had an advance copy of McCain's speech and he copied that to Word. He wrote in his byline and a tentative title and began pulling quotes from the speech. He started framing his story even while other politicians were talking. He wrote about McCain's admitted differences with the NRA and mentioned "polite applause."

When McCain started speaking, Pearson followed the prepared text and used all caps to enter any deviations as well as recording the speech digitally. He bolded a few deviations particularly when McCain discussed Barack Obama's challenge to debate McCain on foreign policy.

I read the story in today's Chicago Tribune and was amazed to see how he and two other journalists had crafted the final version. It started with Obama's challenge and then discussed McCain's appearance at the NRA.

We sometimes criticize reporters, but they do work hard. The man I watched probably travels almost as much as the candidates, lives out of a suitcase, all to record his observations. If print newspapers are dying, we will still need professional reporters to collect and analyze what they see and hear. It is a skill they gain through practice. It was a privilege to see how a professional observes and reports.

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