A day in the life of a reporter: tractor pulls and falling leaves

From Overheard in a Newsroom:

“You haven’t lived until you’ve covered a tractor pull.”

When I started writing fiction, it was all too easy to develop trite plot points and find myself satisfied. Journalism taught my to accept less-than-fascinating stories as good enough.

No defensiveness, please. Newspapers are often filled with insightful and well-written copy. But ridiculous news stories are common, especially in smallish towns with smallish daily newspapers. That paper has to go out every single day. Trust me on this point: news doesn’t pop every single day in some cities.

I know a reporter who was desperate to produce something for the paper. So he wrote a story about what to do if your tongue got stuck on metal in the winter, like that kid in the Christmas Story.

That desperation – from both reporters and editors – is why you see headlines like these in your morning paper.

  • Ice cream a cool, refreshing treat
  • Local festival draws kids with bouncy house
  • Fair-lovers flock to fair
  • No traffic accidents at downtown intersection
  • City Council takes no action at meeting
  • Neither does School Board
  • Anticipated snowfall/rainfall/windstorm did not arrive
  • Leaves this year falling early/late/on time
  • No change in crop prices
  • Six-month-old signage ordinance causes no controversy
  • Folks hit the stores for Christmas shopping
  • Holiday weekend brings rising gas prices
  • Tips for potty training/cookie baking/car maintenance/safe shoveling/party planning/gardening/household finance

Tedious to read; excruciating to write.

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