Progress Journal

Week 1-2

On Wednesday, I began to do research about the Missouri Primary and Caucus. I don’t follow politics very much, so I had a hard time understanding everything. I thought it was pointless that Missouri was having both a primary and a caucus. It seemed like a waste of money to me, especially since the primary wouldn’t even count for the Republicans. I read multiple articles about the upcoming elections, and did my best to understand it and write a story about it.

On Thursday, I began to look up phone numbers for party committee members. Due to homework in other classes, I was unable to start doing this until the day before it was due. I was in class all day so I had to call people in between classes. I skipped lunch so I could conduct more phone interviews. I have class until 4:00, and I didn’t want to call anyone after 5:00 out of courtesy. Since I had a doctor’s appointment at 5:00, I wasn’t able to work on my story until after dinner. I finished it a little after midnight and turned it in the next morning.

I made corrections to my story on Saturday and submitted it to Lindenlink.

Week 3

When writing up questions to ask people at the Missouri Primary on Tuesday, I wanted to be thorough. I wrote out questions for voters, poll workers and executioners. I didn’t expect to be at the polls long. I figured Kelsey and I could be back by lunch if we left early.

On Tuesday, Kelsey and I left Lindenwood around 8:20. We went to polling stations near my house. It took us over five hours because very few people were voting and we had a hard time finding people to interview. Even after going to 10 polling places, I left with only five interviews. I wrote the story in the J-lab with many of my other classmates. (I also ate too  much food.) It was a little hard to write my story since I didn’t have very many good quotes to work with, but I managed to put one together by midnight. I was happy to see my story on Lindenlink the next day with one of the pictures I took in the slider.

Over the weekend, I blogged about my experience at the polls. I went over the word count because I was writing about my experience which is something I do every night. I felt like I was writing in my journal, and I enjoyed telling the story behind the story. Many times, how a journalist gets a story is more interesting than the story itself.

Week 4

I enjoyed having Tuesday off with no assignments. The past few weeks have been stressful and it was nice to have a short break from investigative reporting. I took the time to make corrections to my stories and upload them to my blog. That turned out to be a smart decision because our next assignment was to upload our stories to our blogs. I had a head-start on that one. I spent the weekend reading the other students’ blogs and commenting on them. Hearing the experiences of my classmates was a pleasure to read. Finding specific things to comment on wasn’t difficult. Once I started writing about the blogs strengths and weaknesses, it was easy to come up with over 100 words for each comment. I think I have an eye for editing (although I should, since I am the news editor for the paper.) I especially enjoyed reading Kelsey Rogers’ experience. She was with me the entire time and we had similar experiences, but I liked hearing her take on the situation.

Week 5-6

Since I’m new to politics, I had to do quite a bit of research about the caucus process. Once again, I found myself having a difficult time understanding it enough to put it in layman’s terms. I consulted the Missouri Republican website often for information. Afer I compiled a list of potential people to call for the caucus preview story, I wrote out a list of questions to ask. Since I’ve been weighed down by other commitments and class assignments, I wasn’t able to begin interviewing people until the day before the assignment was due. The first person I called was Jonathon Prouty, the communications director for the Missouri Repbulican Party. I found his name under the “For Press” link on the Missouri Republican website. He told me he had already talked to Holly so I felt bad for disturbing him again, but he was still willing to talk to me. He gave me very useful information and quotes. The other two people I interviewed were the Republican committeeman and committeewoman of the Northwest Township in St. Louis County. The interview with J. Richman, the committeeman lasted over 40 minutes. He was passionate about politics. I barely had to talk. I just listened to him enthusiastically describe the caucus process in detail while my notetaking hand did its best to keep up. He told me I could come observe the Northwest caucus and said he looks forward to meeting me. He is the kind of source reporters love. I worked late into the night perfecting and writing my story and finished by 2:30 a.m. I was proud of myself for actually making some sense of it all.

Week 7

Since a friend’s wedding was the same day as presidential candidate Ron Paul’s visit to Lindenwood, I wrote a preview story for the speech. I hit several road blocks the day before the original deadline of Thursday. My story was about what security would be like for the event. Unfortunately Kurt Smith was unavailable to talk that day. I called a past source, Detective Wilson, at the St. Charles County Police Department, but only got his voicemail. I even tried calling Ron Paul’s campaign and left a message introducing myself as a student reporter. Apparently they only respond to calls from the real deal, i.e. Fox News. Luckily I was able to talk to Kurt Smith the next day and when I tried calling Detective Wilson he was able to direct me to Lieutenant David Senter who gave me a brief phone interview. Since the Ron Paul event was fast approaching, I spent the rest of the evening writing the story so I could get it in to Lindenlink later that night.

Week 8

This week was devoted to preparing for the Missouri Republican Caucus on Saturday. Kelsey and I decided to go with the location at Chesterfield that she wrote a preview story for. The people she talked to seemed more receptive to reporters than the Northwest Township committee people whom I talked to. So I looked up the address beforehand, and wrote out a couple questions I wanted to ask. On the Saturday of the caucus, Kelsey and I were not able to make it to the Chesterfield location by 9:00 as planned. The building was 15 minutes from Lindenwood, so we left at 8:30 in case we had trouble finding the place. Unfortunately the 15 extra minutes I had planned for only covered making a couple wrong turns, not getting hopelessly lost (which is what happened.)

We arrived in Chesterfield right on time at about 8:50 but I had problems finding the street we were supposed to turn on. Each attempt I made to turn around took me to a strange highway or one-way road. By 9:30, I was less concerned about making it to the caucus on time than I was just being able to find my way back. Each navigation decision I made was a pure guess because the driving directions I printed out had become useless. By sheer luck I was able to find my way back to the original highway. After an hour of driving, Kelsey and I arrived at the caucus at 9:50.

We had no problem getting in. In fact, the man who led us to the press section seemed enthusiastic about our being there. He had to check with a supervisor concerning photographs, but promptly returned to tell us photographs were allowed as long as we stayed in our seats.

The caucus was not at all what I expected. I thought it would be a civil meeting. The voters seemed more like an angry mob who loudly questioned every action and constantly demanded recounts. I was in a room full of older adults, but it seemed like I was back in gradeschool. I took pictures and notes during the entire two-hour process. Then afterward, Kelsey and I interviewed a couple voters and people in charge. I was happy to get out of there. I was shaking by the end of it. The stressful drive, loud crowd, and (of course) talking to people was getting my nerves riled. Being there also made me sad for democracy. The two-party system already has our country divided. Saturday I discovered people can’t even get along within the same party.

Weeks 9-10

I was able to write my caucus coverage story the Sunday after the caucus. Even though I had been there, I had a hard time understanding my notes. Like one of my sources explained, it can be a confusing process. For all of my political stories, I’ve had a hard time making sense of it all. When writing my story, I wanted to focus more on the atmosphere rather than the process, so I included quotes that random audience members had shouted. I found the audience’s responses more fascinating than what was was being said by the people running the caucus. The passion of the people was my story, not who won (though I did include that briefly.) I was proud to make a fairly coherent story from the confusion of the Chesterfield Caucus.

Week 14

4/22: At 7:30 I sent a message to Amanda Turner. She was my drum major in marching band but before she came to Lindenwood, she served in the Air Force. Since she is openly gay and served in the military, she would make a good source. In my message, I explained my story and asked if she would be willing to talk to me. She agreed and we are in the process of arranging a date to meet. After sending the message, I wrote out a list of questions I want to ask her, mostly about her service and her opinions of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: