Developing an expertise


By: Mandy Mitchell

This has been an unusually hectic couple of weeks so my apologies for neglecting the blog. Just when I sat down to write something on Friday morning, I was called in to the station because of breaking news.

A basketball player who played college ball at NC State died. I was the reporter called to do the story because I did a documentary on his hometown last summer. If you missed that, you can check it out here.

I had a unique “expertise” for the story and was quickly able to set up interviews with 3 people and secure a live shot spot.

I totally understand you likely won’t have the chance to produce a documentary on a subject, but you do have a chance to become the “station expert” or the “go-to” reporter for many different stories if you work at it.

For example, I am sure many of you will be working on stories about the travel ban this week. You may be sent to interview refugees or immigrants affected by the ban. It is important to not think of this story as a one day thing. We all have a tendency to shoot interviews, rush to write and go live. This kind of story is where you can set yourself apart.

Get the phone number or email address for anyone you interview. Write down some notes about his/her situation.

Ask more questions than you may need for that day’s story. Does this person have family who could have issues in the future?

Try to really make connections because this will come up again, and when it does, you can be the person who knows who to call and you can be the person who is on this big story.

This advice goes for a lot of the stories we do. It never hurts to get contact information for someone you are interviewing. It also never hurts to save file video of a crime scene or court video or anything else you think you may be able to use in the future. I save stuff on a hard drive. Most of the time I don’t use it again, but it’s handy to have when you need it. I used a bunch of stuff I had saved from shooting my documentary in Friday’s story.

Becoming an “expert” or even developing a strong interest in a subject will make you a better reporter and could get you better stories in the future.

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