When you think of The Pendulum, what comes to mind? Do you imagine reporters at events with their laptops typing away, editors in the office at 2 a.m. preparing stories to be printed or photographers sporadically snapping photos as they try to get the perfect shot?
While there may be some truth to those speculations, there are some obstacles The Pendulum staff faces that nobody would expect. When I became a student writer, I found out pretty fast that no matter how early you start writing a story and no matter how much you paid attention in media writing, there are some things that you can’t be prepared for.
As a reporter, you write about a broad range of subjects. My first story was about cheap Valentine’s Day dates. After that, I reviewed a musical theater production. The week after that I was writing about stuffed animals, and then I was interviewing a student who has made it to the finals for a high profile scholarship.
Writing those stories created some pretty poignant memories, like going to see the same musical four times to make sure I didn’t miss anything, asking random females what their dream Valentine’s Day date would be and, my favorite, finding out one of my friends has more than 70 stuffed animals. But those shenanigans are nothing compared to my experience with my most recent article.
Before spring break I was assigned a story about the Elon Animal Hospital. I hoped that with a quick phone call and a short interview, I’d be able to write a story informing people of the hospital’s origins and alert them of some events it may be hosting. Instead, I was sent on a wild goose chase. After my phone calls weren’t answered, I went to the hospital myself and was told the doctor wasn’t available for an interview and I wouldn’t be allowed to interview any customers.
As much as I would’ve loved to go ask my editor for a new assignment, that wasn’t an option, so like all journalists must learn to do, I improvised. I sat in front of the McEwen dining hall, hoping that eventually I’d see somebody with a pet. After about two hours I lucked out and found a family with two dogs, but neither of them had been to the hospital. At the three and a half hour mark, I gave up for the day and started walking back to my dorm. Just as I walked inside, I heard a bark and saw the blur of a running dog and his owner. I dropped my bag and started running after them. After tripping over a spot where a brick was supposed to be and terrifying five people, I finally caught up with them.
Luckily, this guy had actually been to the animal hospital and was able to give me an interview. Now all that remains is the task of actually interviewing the doctor. Someone finally answered my phone call and gave me a time to call back to schedule an interview.
What’s the moral of this story? A lot of work goes into the content that you read, and the lives of journalists aren’t as boring as some think. Even though we spend a fair share of our time writing, we do have some odd experiences. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and if you’re really curious about the Elon Animal Hospital, I’ll have a story for you soon.