Thinking Outside The Box

I'll admit it: I'm a perfectionist. But, as I spend more time reporting I realize things aren't always going to go your way. Example: this past week.

Before going out on a story, I imagine how I want it to play out; I think about the questions I want to ask, the people I want to talk to, and who the perfect CCC would be. I think about the shots I want, how I'm going to write the package, and how the sequence of shots are going to be laid out. Although this doesn't always work out, I'm always willing to adapt to my surroundings and story.

This week I pitched a story about the Central Missouri Community Action's funds for energy aid running out. The funds help low income families, the elderly and disabled, and those in danger of having their utility services disconnected with their energy bills. The funds are in danger of running out by next year if the federal government does not provide the center with extra money. The funds the center received this year are only half of what they received last year. For my story, I hoped to talk to the woman in charge of energy assistance and then someone who would be extremely affected by the funds running out.

When I couldn't reach the center I headed there. I spoke with the community service supervisor who was gracious enough to explain how the funding works. After the interview, I wanted to grab a CCC: someone who would be affected. However, many of the people who had appointments with the center had left. I tried getting the few people in the waiting room to talk to me, but they didn't want to go on camera. I did talk to someone off camera and used her as a source, but by the time the center closed I didn't have my "perfect" CCC to make people really care about the story.

This happens a lot in journalism, and the only thing that determines how your story turns out is how you handle the situation. Learning to always think outside the box is key. When the center was empty and time was running short, I hoped for a CCC to walk through the doors, but I also thought about ways I could write the package without them. I started shooting the empty chairs and thought about how I could start my package.

To see how I went about my story, watch it below:


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