Reporter strategy: rookie mistake or veteran move?

Ghost States, Reporter

The students in journalism work hard to write stories for this school newspaper. But a good story can be hard to write sometimes, especially if the topic is out of that journalist’s field of expertise. This problem is why some students in journalism tend to write articles about classes and clubs that they’re in. But there’s a bit of a debate with that sort of situation, which is what brings up this question: is a journalism student writing about a subject that they’re in a rookie mistake or a veteran move? 

     For beginner reporters, this tends to be their go-to thing to do, especially if they are new to the class. This isn’t recommended in journalism because the goal is to allow people to learn about things that they otherwise may not have any knowledge about outside of journalism. Plus, if the student writing the article is involved in the topic that the article is about, the piece runs a risk of becoming very opinionated.  Beginner reporters are encouraged to branch out and write about people and subjects just a touch outside of their comfort zone, if they stay stuck writing about the same people every issue, it’s not going to be a very good article. 

     On the other hand, veteran reporters tend to use this tactic as a sort of last-minute resort. If they cannot find any other subject to write an article about, then they turn to something that they’re more familiar with. Something easy that they can just write a few words down about with barely any thought because the subject comes so naturally to them. This is where this method of writing can be seen as a “veteran move.” 

     People who write about a subject that they’re passionate about often do well when writing about that subject. For example, if a journalism student who is also a part of the lacrosse team decides to write an article about that sport or someone involved in that sport, it can be seen one of two ways – it can be seen as a rookie mistake that should not be repeated ever again or it can be seen as a veteran move that receives high praise. 

     It seems to entirely depend on your level of knowledge in journalism. If you know what you’re doing and are able to write an article about that subject without making it sound opinion-based, then yes, it is a recommended move. But if you don’t have a lot of experience and wind up making the piece sound like a ramble or rant, then no, it is not a recommended move. 

    “That’s probably a veteran move.” Says journalism student Maura Chaney. “If they know enough about it they should be able to write about it.” 

     “I think it’s a veteran move because you know the people that are in that club the best.” Says reporter Marissa Altenburg. “You know the people in that class the best and you know who can give you the best answers.”