The perks of being part of a team

29 Apr

By Lavi Ben-Dor, 45Words Student Partner

About a month ago, I nearly had a heart attack.

I am the News Editor of The Spoke, my school’s newspaper, and I was working on a story looking at the recovery process for students who get concussions, as we had been noticing lots of people getting concussions to the point that it seemed that someone new got a concussion every week. It was only supposed to go on front page on the side (we were splitting the front page between two stories) and then continue to the centerspread, where it would share space with lots of neat graphics, most of which were already made.

And then about a week before the paper was supposed to come out, the other front page story fell through when we realized it was not going to be ready for publication. This meant that now we had most of the front page as well as two other pages completely blank.

Of course, I panicked. Concussions was going to have to be the front page, but I didn’t have nearly enough copy to fit on two more pages. I would need to do so many more interviews–talk to various experts on the issue, interview at least five more students, get the perspective of administrators–in short, something that would be impossible for one person alone.And that’s where teamwork kicked in.One of our editors-in-chief and our managing editor volunteered to help write, and we sent an email out to the incoming editors, who had been chosen at that point but do not officially start until the coming weeks asking them to help out. A handful responded instantly, offering to help do interviews and come to our production nights, which take place from after school until 6 p.m. twice during the week before the paper is released.

We split up the sources, with each of us only doing one or two each, and we broke it down so each of the three writers would have their own story with a unique angle (we eventually chose to cover concussions in sports, the rise in concussions, and the recovery process) to make things easier. After working furiously, squabbling over what quotes were there, we suddenly realized that it we’d be able to pull it together–and we did (see the issue below).

The same thing happened this issue, which comes out on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, our tentative front page story fell through, so we decided to cover the Boston Marathon bombings by looking at how it has affected our area (a sort of reaction piece). I, as well as one of the reporters in the News section, was working on the story but then we realized we had a mountainload of interviews, and we recruited our Convergence Editor to co-write with us and got a few of the incoming editors to do interviews, and we were able to pull the story together despite the immense time crunch.

“The more the merrier” rings true when it comes to student journalism. Several reporters and editors working together on a story can at times be essential, because you never know what might happen. And when disaster strikes and the clock is counting down until your paper comes out, sometimes you may need to call on others on your staff to help you with a story.

It’s not a sign that you can’t write well or aren’t a good reporter if you work together as a team–it just shows that you recognize the importance of getting everything done in time and that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make things happen.

I’ve come to realize that team coverage is actually a great way to cover an event, especially if what you’re covering is broad in scope or you’re low on time to get the story done. By working as a team, you can do more interviews faster and break the story down so everyone working on it has one specific element they’re working on and then the whole team brings the story together faster and more effectively than any one or two reporters working by themselves could, making this a great technique for us student journalists to utilize.

And if you’re prone to panic attacks like me, having a team of reporters working on your story with you can reassure you and help you realize that with a team, anything is possible.

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