I guess it’s an occupational hazard. Think about it. If you’ve been in the business for more than a couple years, you’ve probably shot almost every story you’re going to shoot.
The accident/crime scene. The meeting. The cat in the tree. The sewer. Traffic. The lottery is really big. It’s hot. It’s cold. The first day of spring. The first day of school. The last day of school. The election. Court. The ground breaking. The ribbon cutting. The movie premier. . .
And chances are, you’ve done them more than once. Your day becomes predictable. You know what Pookie and Ray-Ray are gonna say before they say it. You know the producer’s version of what will happen, won’t.
The excitement that once greeted you at the station door each morning has disappeared. You grumble into the morning meeting. You cast sarcasm at re-treaded story ideas. You’re <gasp> a burnout.
Have you ever stopped to think that the trouble isn’t with the story ideas, but with you?
Hey, it happens. Don’t beat yourself up over it. And a buddy of mine I’ll call The Grape, has a cure. He calls it finding the other side.
As journalists, we’re always told we have to show both sides of a story. But does your story have a third side? A fourth side? Something that no one has touched?
Might there be some good to come out of a cold snap? (Like killing those damned mosquitos) Could there actually be something good going on in the rain you’ve covered for the last 17 days? Is there another way to ask people what they would do with their lottery winnings?
Almost a year ago, the Adult in the Room handed me that task after four other stories had fallen through before noon. Bored with the standard lottery story I started thinking about what that kind of stuff money like that could buy. This is what I came up with this.
It won’t end world hunger. But with the Powerball jackpot again reaching half-a-billion dollars, I’m sure I’ll be looking for another side to this story soon.
So, if you see me grumbling my way into the morning meeting, I’m either out of ideas or I didn’t have the winning ticket.