Posted by: Ciaran | August 27, 2010

The rub of the green

This post also appears on the Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists blog looking at the topic of the skills required by the modern journalist.

A skill? Maybe not. But luck isn’t all about pure chance and carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot. In my experience, the harder you work, the luckier you get – and the odd brush of good fortune is essential for any journalist.
Let me illustrate what I mean. I went out to do some door-knocking for a story one day. As soon as I arrived in the street in question, I spotted a broadcast journalist already there.
We had a quick chat – more of a verbal poker game, with both bluffing that we knew more or less than we did – before I set about going door-to-door.
When I was two-thirds of the way up the street and had next to nothing more than I already knew, I was tempted to give up and go back to newsdesk and offer them the meagre scraps I had gathered.
But I decided to give it a few more minutes, and behind the next door I tried was an elderly lady who told me exactly who I wanted to speak to – before informing me the woman in question was out.
Trying to be positive, I carried on my fruitless knocking until I’d done the whole street. And as I walked back down the street it appeared my luck had turned – the car I’d been told to look for was back.
Enthusiastically, I knocked on the woman’s door. When she answered, she said she was more than happy to speak – but asked if I could come back in half an hour.
I wandered around the corner and made a few phone calls for some other stories, trying not to waste time. I let 40 minutes pass, and then walked back to the house.
There was no answer. I couldn’t believe how unlucky I’d been to miss the person I wanted to speak to again, and it looked like I was going to head back to the newsroom with a fairly weak story.
I decided to head down to the shops to delay the inevitable and pick up a bit of lunch. And, as I passed one shop, I felt compelled to go in for a look around.
There, in front of me, was the exact woman I had been hoping to speak to. By complete fluke I had run into her when she’d been asked to do some emergency cover in the store, explaining why she wasn’t at home.
Luck, hard work, intuition, coincidence – whatever it was, it worked that day, and the woman in question has become an incredibly useful contact. But I’d never have had the chance to speak to her without being totally bloody-minded and carrying on knocking and knocking, just waiting for my luck to change.
And I wasn’t even carrying a rabbit’s foot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: