Desk Time vs. Free Time
How do you ask your editor for free time to go out and "explore" the
community? I feel I am expected to stay at my desk until 6 p.m., even when
there's not much going on. I would rather be out sitting somewhere watching
people and digging up story ideas. I was taught that "listening
posts" in the community was how good journalists found good stories. Help! -- Explorer
You are right – "listening
posts" are great for story ideas. I am a huge believer in getting out into
the community, talking to folks, people-watching, bulletin-board reading,
hanging out at parks, church bazaars and coffee shops. Do it!
But remember this: You are an
intern. You are like a utility infielder. Your job for now is to be ready
and able for anything that might pop up, whether Web posting, breaking news, a
quick story turnaround, or filling in for someone who is late or sick or double
If you are not at your desk, your editor can't toss you the “whatever” that comes along. For now, stick around.
Be available. Do your listening-post exploring after work, early in the morning
before work, and -- yes! -- on your days off. Reporting is not a 9-to-5 job. It
is a way of life and a mindset.
As your editor gains more confidence in your abilities, you might find yourself
with a bit more "free time" to explore. But I would start by nosing
around during your non-desk hours.
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