Despite no longer being on campus, the Exponent staff has continued working remotely to keep writing and to keep the campus updated on the many changes happening right now. This left staff writers to now transition from writing for print to now writing for an online medium.
My first thoughts when I found out I would now be writing from home were: what am I even going to write about, and how will no longer being able to do in-person interviews affect my stories?
To assist student writers with this transition we were sent tips, articles, and had the ability to reach out to others for assistance. I felt these tips and articles were extremely helpful to me when it came to making this transition and now writing from home.
Writing from home does come with its changes and challenges. One of the biggest changes in my opinion were no more in-person interviews. My colleague Bo Ransom, Senior Editor and Managing Copy Desk Editor, said that though he is not proud to admit it he has done a handful of “email interviews” due to his personal schedule changing along with the faculty and staff members’ schedules changing as well.
I have dealt with similar issues.
“Email interviews aren’t always the best because you don’t get the authenticity of a personal, or even a phone, interview. It’s also harder to ask follow up questions, which can really drive a story,” said Ransom.
I agree, my email interviews, in a way feel limited especially when it comes to follow up questions. I have still been able to gather decent quotes from my email interviews, but I would have even more if I were able to conduct my interviews in person.
I feel my in-person interviews lead to strong follow up questions, and some of my best quotes often come from follow up questions. Though I always prepare my questions ahead of time, I’ve found myself thinking of more questions I wished I asked after I conducted my email interviews compared to when I would conduct an in-person interview.
Though there are no longer face-to-face classroom meetings, the staff has continued to use the tools given to us to keep in contact and stay organized. We have continued to have meetings using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
One of the best ways I feel we stay organized is through Meistertask because it allows us to see what stories people are working on and where they are in the process of writing that story, which we used before working remotely.
Overall, the most helpful part of all this has been the rest of the staff. We all are dealing with these changes together, so it was helpful to receive emails with tips, other articles to read, or advice to any questions I had.
If you are a student journalist writing from home here are some tips and ideas, I personally found helpful:
Read up on new articles or other articles that match the style of Journalism you are aiming towards.
Try to conduct phone interviews instead of email interviews if possible.
Do not get discouraged if you are having trouble thinking of story ideas. Think about what kind of things you want to know during this time and that would be helpful to you and others.
Look at the various angles you have for your story.
Use the tools you are given.
Do not be afraid to ask for input or advice from your colleagues we are all dealing with these changes together
Share articles, ideas and tips with each other.
When asking my colleague Bo Ransom if he had any advice to other students writing from home he said, “Enjoy the process. We are all going through the same experience right now, so everyone knows how difficult this time is. Try and stay focused as much as you can and when in doubt, smile.”
I would have to agree. Enjoy the process, don’t get discouraged, and be proud of what you are accomplishing during this time.