Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pattern recognition

I was standing in Bicentennial Park, waiting for Turbo to finish analyzing the bouquet around a small tree, when I spotted a four-leaf clover. No big deal, except that I hadn't found one in a long while. Maybe two years? And when I was a child I used to find them in multiples, pressed them in every large book I could locate around the house.
Later that afternoon at home, I found another one in the back yard. I don't know why the pattern recognition clicked in, after apparently going on hiatus for a while.
My Newswriting students had lunch yesterday with some reporters and editors from the News & Record. The conversation tacked from subject to subject, until it came to "finding a story."
That's one of the things you can't really teach. Every reporter had a method, a plan. Riding around, walking, calling people, reading, looking at bulletin boards in the laundromat. It's a matter of seeing - something. Pattern recognition. Some stories are evident, some evident only to the reporter who catches something out of the ordinary, a branch crossed the wrong way, a poster crumpled in the rain.

1 comment:

Mel said...

One of the better things that I was taught in college was to never have lunch at the paper. Always eat lunch out -- even if you have no source to cultivate or quiz, eat lunch in the park, on a bench somewhere, at the local college -- stories will magically appear. :-)