Today I learned that you should always be prepared as a reporter.
This means keeping a flashlight on you at all times, because you never know when the State Capitol will have a power outage.
The power was out at the State Capitol today for a little over 2 hours, and I had to record a look-live in the dark, outside of the House of Representative chamber.
The House Of Representatives was holdin an orientation for 77 of its newest members soon.
As I sat in the dark, my frustration grew. My colleagues had moved onto lunch, and I was in the dark (literally and figuratively) about how to get my Marantz to work.
Eventually, I was able to record an entertaining and informative reader about the power outage and its affect on the House of Representatives Freshman Orientation.
I learned to not allow your frustration to overwhelm you, and that sometimes you must step back and take a deep breath.
After realizing this, I was not even upset when the power returned before I was able to send my story off to KMOX, therefore making my reporting efforts unneeded.
Because, hey, at least I was prepared.
I've already given you a bit on Baum's views on the government, but I think I need to clear up his stance a bit. Baum does not believe that ALL Republicans and Democrats are power-hungry, corrupt individuals. But he argues that with power comes corruption; the more power an entity receives, the more likely it is to fall into corrupt practices.
But he isn't calling his opponents corrupt. He gives an example of campaign funds, when your receiving big campaign contributions, the ones giving those huge contributions expect something in return.
He isn't saying his party is perfect, and comments that if his party were to get more popular (read powerful), they would have the same issues.
I enjoyed finishing this project. I completed two short wraps, a long feature, and a print piece. I ran into problems with my audio, but was gratefully able to re-interview Baum and finish the work.
ok, not necesarily true.
But according, to Charles "Charlie" Baum, the Libertarian candidate for Missouri State Auditor, it is definitely true.
Charlie says the current system of bi-partisanship in government is obviously not working. Voters may feel they are "throwing their vote away" when they vote Libertarian, but he says the opposite is true. By voting for Democrat or Republican, your vote is lost among the thousands and thousands.
"It doesn't count unless your candidate wins by one vote," Baum says.
But by voting Libertarian, you can stand out in the crowd, Charlie claims, and it can truly make a statement.
He says he hope to be a non-political politician, and bring an independent voice to the State Auditor's office.
For me, this candidate profile has been an interesting journey. Charlie is full of character and I appreciated how accesible he made himself to the media. I am a little disappointed that I wasn't able to contact more sources, namely his opponents, but they have take on the "shun the media" role, and were not reachable.
I can understand Charlie's political message. Often times, it does seem that politicians are too caught up in the act of poltics, and have forgotten they are servants of the people. I truly learned a lot through my research, about the Libertarian party and the process of bi-partisanship in government. I look forward to writing my accompanying print profile on Charlie Baum, and recording my radio profile next week.
Today, I learned an important lesson. In journalism, glitter is not okay.
I came into the office this morning and was hit with what I thought would be my hardest story yet, fall foliage. Phill assigned me the story, and left me with the following statement, "It's a throwaway, but the people enjoy it." I didn't know what I was in for, and expected I would be dealing with a boring subject that I would have to make relevant.
Boy, was I wrong.
The fall foliage story was the smoothest, and simplest story I have done yet, and it was interesting. (whoa, I know.) I learned quite a bit. Did you know that the White Oak tree makes up almost 3/4 of Missouri forests? or that its leaves won't be turning colors this fall? Neither did I!
This fall will be an average one in terms of weather for Missouri. This differs from last year, when heavy October rains cut the fall leaves season in half. I hope my readers take the time to go outdoors and truly appreciate the diversity of Missouri forests.
Two of my stories were "news" as Phill calls it. But one was glitter, and according to Phill, "Glittering generalities are banned in this office." So, I had to rewrite it. I fell into the PR trap, and had to correct myself. It was a lesson learned.
This week, I was assigned a campaign profile by Phill. I will be covering Charles "Charlie" Baum, the Libertarian candidate for Missouri State Auditor.
He will be facing tough competition from both the Democrat incumbent, Susan Montee and Republican candidate Tom Schweich. Susan Montee received overwhelming support from Missouri Democrats, ending the August primaries with more than 90% of the vote. Tom Schweich is gearing up for the November elections after defeating Allen Icet with 58% of Missouri voters support. Charlie Baum was the only Liberertarian candidate.
Phill taught me last week to research my subjects before sitting down to interview them. I felt like for something as personal as a campaign profile, research would be especially important. Before today, I had no idea what a state auditor's job entails. So for those of you in the same boat as I, let's take a moment to define the position. Basically, a state auditor is in charge of your tax dollars. Semi-important position, is it not? They oversee the who, what, when, where, and how of the spending of tax dollars. It is a job, that according to Charlie Baum's website, must be independent of party loyalties in order to be done so correctly.
Charlie Baum believes he can bring objectivity to the people of Missouri. According to him, not belonging to the cut-throat bi-partisan community of Democrats v. Republicans makes him the best candidate for the job.
From what I have heard, Charlie is an easy-going man willing to talk to the media. I was shown this when I called his campaign office and Baum answered the phone. I hope completing the profile goes as smoothly as it has today. I am having trouble finding Libertarian speaking events to go and see Charlie Baum, something he attributes to an unintelligent voting population. I still believe the profile will be successful if done over the phone. The unavailability speaks to America's fascination with heavily drawn political lines. For most Americans, you are either Democrat or Republican, with Independents making an appearance at election time. I hope to shed light on a small but important voice in the world of Missouri Politics.
My first "real" shift at Missouri Digital News went as well as could be expected, sort of. I learned the most important lesson of any news room, news is new. I realized that it is not easy dealing with hot topic issues, because those hot topic issues are often still hot topics in their respective communities. I ran into this today when every person I wanted to interview about two "unaccredited" school districts were in meetings discussing said possible unaccreditation. I did all of my interviews very late in the day, which led to me not getting it done by deadline. I hope that next week I am able to get my wraps done by deadline. That is my ultimate goal.
Also, I'm excited about my feature story. It is a subject that I am passionate about and I believe I have collected an extensive list of interview subjects and can not wait to get started with my partner on the project, Ben.
Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.