Monday, March 14, 2005

Serendipity alert

Today while cleaning out the garage I found a notebook from my days at Chapel Hill, and in between pages of notes on binomial distribution and musings about the first round of the upcoming 1990 NFL draft I found a written conversation between myself and one of my former professors. Apparently we were bored in an auditorium lecture and entertained ourselves by writing back and forth to each other like teenagers.

(for the record, I was a non-traditional student at UNC, a former tank commander/cav scout sergeant who had not quite demilitarized... so my relationships with my profs tended to be different than those of most students).

Anyway, the payoff: later in the day i checked my e-mail and I had something waiting for me from that prof -- a beautifully written piece of journaling prose.

Also this weekend we bid farewell to reporter Jason Hardin, who is heading off to Greensboro to write for the News and Record. He, like me, is a Tar Heel. We talked about home (he's from Ashboro; his wife from Siler City), and what it means to hear Tar Heel basketball games called by Woody Durham. I ate oysters and drank a lot of beer and lounged on Robert Behre's perfect lawn and loved evertyhing being part of newspapers for just a couple of hours.

Dave Slusher mentioned my podcasting story on his blog and gave it a polite review, which is probably about all it deserved. He also mentioned my blog and said something about how the process of doing the story was more involved than he would have thought. The only thing I really like about the story per se is that i replaced subheads with script-format dialog quotes from different podcasts as a way to break up sections. That was new and creative.

I don't know if there's any other value to this blog right now besides this process stuff. I'm not really talking about new media much this month: everything has become very process-oriented, very personal. No big ideas in March, just me trying to get through stuff and being obsessive and neurotic in public.

But maybe that's more valuable. There are a lot of people writing about reporting in the larger sense, not too many writing about the act itself. And of course what your monkey-mind hopes for is that people see that you are just human and then they forgive your sins and omissions, but that's crap. You do what you do, you do it the best you can do under the circumstances, and if people don't like it or they don't like you, well, you drive on. Maybe you learn from that, maybe you don't, and sometimes you're actually right. As Shu would undoubtedly chide me, all my self-reflective navel gazing don't mean squat.

Here's what I think: No matter how experienced you are, reporting never gets easier, because the more you know, the more you become aware of new ways to screw up, things that didn't even occur to you before. Learning and writing are an infinite onion, which may be why so many of my journalistic heroes are so materialisticly pragmatic. Gordian Knot? CUT IT.