By Memet Walker
(Author’s note: This blog is best viewed with the hit song “Dreams” by The Cranberries playing in the background.)
It’s the end of my D.C. summer with the Scripps Howard Foundation. I’m a tanner, fitter and better journalist than I’ve ever been before in my life.
OK, two of those are lies, but I’m not saying which.
You’re probably reading this because you’re a new Scripps Howard Foundation intern, you looked at our summer portfolio and said to yourself – wisely, I might add – “Memet’s definitely my favorite, so how can I be like him?”
Well, I’m here to give you some of my own brand of unique advice on how to do it.
2. Look beyond the daybooks for stories.
You’re probably thinking, “What’s a daybook?”
Heh-heh-heh, oh that brings back memories. Yes, I was once as young and innocent as you – but that was months ago.
A “daybook” is the schedule you’ll receive every day that tells you almost everything that each of the branches of government is doing that week – meetings, speeches, campaign events (i.e. “Executive schedule. 1:15: Baby in place. 1:18: President Obama meets with, kisses baby. 1:19: Baby cries, soils diaper. 1:20: Baby takes press questions”).
But there’s more to this town than what is in the daybooks. Some of the best stories I covered, I found on my own. One of my favorite examples is the Little People of America’s National Convention. I just happened to notice an increase in, well, little people in my neighborhood, asked around and found out about it. You think THAT was in the daybook? Think again. It turned out to be one of my best stories.
3. Remember your business cards.
I almost never did, and was almost always asked for them when I went on a story. It makes you look more legit to sources when they ask. If you want them to treat you like the real deal, you need to look the part.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “We have an opening at the Times and we absolutely loved your little people story. Do you have a card?”
“I … forgot.”
“Good day, sir.”
“But, I could give you my Gmail-”
“I said good DAY!”
4. Visit the National Museum of Crime & Punishment.
It’s not a Smithsonian, and it costs $23 bucks, but it is seriously the coolest museum in town. Who wants to see the Hope Diamond when you can see serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s clown suit?
5. Take the bus, not the Metro.
It takes twice as long, but it’s half the price.
6. Bring two camera lenses.
You never know how close you’ll be able to get. And, if you’re like me and forget to check, you’ll never know if one of the lenses has a piece of dust in it that will mess up your would-be Pulitzer prize-winning shot.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be far better off than I was on my first day of work.
Also, Christine’s going to be writing some advice too, so if I could add a seventh piece of advice, it would be to ignore this entirely and just read hers.