The Maneater used to send out these lengthy emails with pitches and **DEADLINES** highlighted in blue (or red etc.) at the bottom of the little blurbs. Your job was to email back as fast as possible to pick one up. If you were a beat reporter and your name was on an assigned pitch, your job was still to email back as fast as possible to let your editor know you were on it —
Such trackable status reports are a thing of the past. At the Missourian, the deadline is **as soon as humanly possible** which translates into **as soon as the story takes a tangible form**.
But that’s the thing: it’s like trying to scoop up the last piece of chicken in a big pot of noodle soup with a tiny tablespoon. The soup is all the possible other story angles, clamoring for your attention, and the chicken is the central question: what does the audience care about? You might catch the chicken eventually, but not after having to dump out spoonful after spoonful of terrible ideas or workable ideas that distract you, but then maybe there’s other pieces of chicken you didn’t even see at first that now demand follow up ~eating~ (stories).
Excusing my digressive metaphor, I have quite a few projects lined up at the moment. I’ve been consistently keeping up with sources, but at this point I have a bigger file of background info than actual inches written. And I realize, upon gazing at my portfolio, that it’s full of mandatory GA shift stories, written because I was ordered to rather than because I’d completed something cool and long-term.
I realize that this is actually what I want. I want to do long, investigative projects, ones that will keep readers informed rather than inspired. However, I feel like I’m sitting here with a lot of potential and nothing to quite show for it yet. That is disappointing.
And thus limbo continues. I type more things into Google, acquire more advice from seasoned reporters, dial more numbers, twiddle my thumbs to wait for more calls, all the while waiting for a day where I either crash and burn from the impending pressure, or have it become a refining fire that melds me into a great journalistic warrior.
What do you do to prove you know your stuff while limbo continues? That’s the biggest question on my mind as of late. I believe that having all that background information on hand could still come in handy in the future. At a moment’s notice, you’ll be prepared when something breaks out. You just have to have faith it’ll work out.
The way to get yourself out of a mental limbo would have to be maintaining said faith. That’s the challenge I see before me today.