An enterprise piece I worked on for about a month, and another reporter worked on for about a month before that, finally published on Sunday. It was a glorious day. The story, "Boarding with the Bartletts" explored the living conditions and problems at several rental properties owned by a former Maryland congressman.
Ah, enterprise reporting. The bread and butter of journalism. So what's it like (for me at least) to work on one of these stories? Here's the best way I can describe it.
Phase one: Excitement. Look at this scoop. This is awesome. Everything is awesome.
Phase two: Focus. Calling all the people, reading all the documents, asking all the questions.
Phase three: Chaos ensues. One person tells you one thing. The second person tells you the opposite. The third won't talk. You lose your notes. You find your notes. You drop chocolate on your notes while stuffing your face late at night (OK that's definitely just me.) Someone calls you back. You forget why you called them. You remember why you called them later on a run after you've gone home. You realize there is more to the story than you anticipated.
Phase four: Consider options. Is this even a story? Maybe I'll try to just ... not do it. Maybe if I just browse Twitter this story will go away. If I hid under my desk, would they find me?
Phase five: Think of lede in shower. Write. Rewrite. Write. Forget English. See spots. Hallucinate. Panic. Rewrite. Write. Rewrite.
Phase six: Remember all the 309284 things you forgot to do/ask/listen to/read.
Phase seven: Do all the things.
Phase eight: Regret. It's not good enough. Receive feedback. You were right, it's not good enough.
Phase nine: Second wind. Report more, learn more, rewrite more.
Phase ten: Editor tears away pen. You scream. I. Can't. Stop.
Phase eleven: Wake up, cold sweat, night before published. A mistake. There is a mistake. There has to be a mistake. Wait, maybe not. I'm ok. I'm ok.
Phase twelve: Simple, pure, fantastic relief.