General Assignment Tales

Yesterday I had my first GA shift, which means basically I plant myself in the newsroom and have stories assigned to me or I generate story ideas. I got there at 8:00 AM, which is difficult for me, I am not a morning person. But when I arrived there was not much happening. So I settled in, ate some mac and cheese for breakfast (disgusting, I know but I didn’t plan out breakfast well this week) and started looking at stories and thinking about story ideas.

At 10:00 AM I was beckoned over to the editors’ desk by Katherine Reed, and she gave me a story about a fast food worker strike happening in Columbia the next day (today). I was thankful that it was a semi national story, with an exciting event and passionate people involved. Those often make really great stories, so I hopped right on to researching it. The research went fairly well, I just looked up the groups mentioned in the press release that were involved around the country and wrote up some of the figures and facts in relatable terms.

It was then that the waiting started. I had three different sources, the press release, a local reverend who was assisting in the Columbia strike, and a striker who I connected with through the person who wrote the press release. I got the reverend on the phone fairly easily and the person who wrote the press release, but then there was this long wait on the striker, because he was being protected by my connection to them. There was an embargo on the story and she didn’t want people’s names or places of business mentioned before the strike, so I had to talk it over with editors, and then we played phone tag for a while, but I’m happy I waited for the striker to be connected with me because he was the key stakeholder in the story. The strike wouldn’t be happening at all without people like him, and he was obviously very passionate about it. Passionate enough to reveal his name and place of work despite the risk. We did end up holding it until 6:00 AM because of the embargo, but it didn’t diminish the story at all.

So at 8:00 PM, after a 12 hour shift, I felt good about what I had accomplished and it was a great experience to talk to people who are willing to put their livelihood on the line because they’re that invested in a cause. It was refreshing to say the least. It made me wonder what causes I believed in enough to make a sacrifice such as the one my subject was possibly making. What causes would make you do something as risky as that?

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