Within every impactful story is a foundation of preparation and thoughtful work. Before every story I work on, I know that there is a diligent process that needs to be followed. As managing editor, I am responsible for facilitating that process and making sure all of our stories are of the highest quality.
From pitch day to print day, I conduct hours of research, write multiple questions for interviews and find the best possible way to make the story credible with factual information and credible sources. For every story, I make sure to create outlines while carefully choosing my sources and planning my interviews. Through profound quotes and thorough reporting, I give myself the best chance to allow the story to take me — and the community around me — places.
Story-pitch day is when every cycle officially starts. Required to propose, or pitch, two issue-driven stories and one personality profile idea, our staff members are required to posses what I like to call "the journalist's ear," constantly searching for stories on campus from classmates and issue-driven ideas from online, media outlets. As managing editor, it is my responsibility to perpetuate discussion of story ideas during pitch day and provide staff members with thought-provoking information as we continue the production cycle.
Click here to view the notes I took on our most recent pitch day for the February cycle.
Another way to gather story ideas is our beat system. Coming into the 2016-2017 school year, I spent hours refining the beats system, making sure that we cover our ground and encompass every aspect of our school community. Each member of our staff is assigned two or three beats, or assignments, to sources across campus in order to gather information for potential stories.
Click to enlarge.
pREPARATION AND RESEARCH:
In addition to pitch day and the beat system for The ReMarker, I partake in an even more rigorous process with Focus Magazine, The ReMarker's triannual magazine. With the chance to work on more dynamic packages with a single-topic magazine, I have an extended planning process before I even write the first word of the story. For Focus, I help the magazine editors gather news the right way and make sure the entire cycle goes smoothly.
After hours of research on what credible sources we should use, we compile all of our information into a Google document — which includes spaces to write questions and offer visual requests — to facilitate the entire process.
You will notice how meticulous and organized the Google document is. Attention to detail is paramount during the process of news gathering, and I directed it this way in order to provide us with the best possible way to gather and organize our content.
The gallery below provides images of the Google document I helped create in collaboration with the magazine editors.
cREDIBLE SOURCES. EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWING. ADDITIONAL RESEARCH.
After choosing significant sources that enhance the story and provide more context to the package, I proceed with the interviewing process. An essential aspect of telling a story is providing colorful quotes from compelling sources, and the art of interviewing is the primary determinant. During my time with The ReMarker, the story and its interview process has taken me to the streets of downtown Dallas, corporate offices and even a Black Lives Matter protest — all in the pursuit of capturing the deeper elements of a story during substantive interviews.
The information below will provide information from interviews, photos of quotes provided in the story package and additional research. Also, you can click on the sources' names to learn a little bit more about the people I interviewed.
When I found out that I had the opportunity to talk to one of the injured police officers in the July 7 shootings, I knew that this was a story worth pursuing. I made sure I secured the interview in an environment she was comfortable in — the Starbucks on Greenville Avenue. Misty visits Starbucks every day, and I knew that she would be comfortable talking to me about her story there. After one of the most meticulous interviews I have ever conducted, I knew this was going to be a story worth telling.
To add valuable credibility and information to the gun violence story, I decided to interview Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is a civic representative of District 30. A lot of students at our school are constituents of Johnson's, and given the fact that Obama's executive action was a very timely element of the story, Johnson was a credible and relevant source that I felt must be added in order to contextualize and deepen the story.
Christina Smith is the assistant chief of the Dallas Police Department. Because Smith is a very busy individual — especially after the Dallas Police shootings — she responded to my email with valuable quotes after our publication date. However, I still wanted to take advantage of the valuable quotes that she provided me. Using the social media platforms I created, I presented Smith's quotes as extra content.
For a story that revolved around political action, I provided the reader with information on how to vote, voter turnout and local opinions on presidential values.
Living in Trumpworld
For a story that I wrote on how some of our school's families will be affected by Trump's presidency, I used the basis of the story to provide supporting information that added depth and relevance to the rest of the package.