News gathering

As the head of a publication, I am always tuned into current events that occur inside and outside of my school community. I gather my news from our student handbook, school assemblies, and meetings and from other groups I am involved in at school. My talented peers are always eager to tell me a story idea. Working for a local paper has broadened my scope for news gathering, prompting me to subscribe to more local news organizations like The Pioneer Press and The Star Tribune. I learn about local news from city council meetings I have attended, neighbors and other local news that goes through my mailbox, like flyers to fund the Henry Sibley High School marching band. That flyer prompted me to pitch the story, which eventually made it to print. 

Since I predominantly write for an online publication, I conduct much of my research online. This past summer, for example, as I was writing a story about the Mendota 2040 Comprehensive Plan, my search history was flooded with old Comprehensive Plans, transcripts of old city council meetings, government documents and historic documents about the city of Mendota. That said, I always conduct my interviews with a reporter's notebook in my hand. I write down about six questions before interviewing and take notes as my subject is talking. I write questions as they come up while I am in the middle of an interview, and I spell out their full name and write their preferred pronouns first. 

My reporter's notebook is messy and my handwriting sometimes looks illegible, but to me, it makes sense. I scribble story ideas in the pages as they pop in my head and jot down phone numbers, names and dates as an interviewee tells me. At journalism conventions, I take this notebook with me to take notes from a speaker or write ideas I hear from professional journalists. If my news gathering technique were to be equated to one object, I would pick this notebook. It's been tucked in my backpack since 9th grade, holding in it the questions I want to ask and the facts I go on to verify.