Covering news as it happens

Posted: May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, last Sunday – May 1 – I was in the newsroom of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian when some significant news broke. At that time, Americans learned that U.S. officials had killed Osama bin Laden during a raid on his compound in Pakistan.

Members of the UMass community quickly reacted to the news – and a few thousand students hosted a demonstration in Southwest to mark the occasion.

News of the demonstration traveled fast across the campus. And, as soon as we in the newsroom were notified of the situation, I headed over to the area with a two colleagues.

As soon as we approached the Southwest courtyard near the Berkshire Dining Commons, I could tell that an interesting story was developing. At least 1,000 gathered in that area; some of them were just observing what was going on, while others were participating in it – by cheering and chanting, setting off fireworks, wrapping trees in toilet paper, etc.

Of the three reporters from the Collegian on the scene, I was the one charged with writing up the story recounting what had happened. One of the other reporters was shooting video of what was going on, while the other one was just curious of what was developing and tagged along with us to the scene.

As the scene continued to unfold, I had to think of what I would write. I started going around and talking to some of the participants in the demonstration to get their feelings on the occasion.

Shortly after I was done speaking with quite a few people in the crowd, I headed back to the Collegian newsroom – due to the lateness of the hour. My colleague who was shooting video of what was going on stayed for a bit longer.

On my walk back to the newsroom, I could hear a muffled voice over the loudspeakers – telling students to disperse. And when I reached the Campus Center – where the Collegian newsroom is – I ran into a bit of a snag.

I was locked out.

Apparently, the custodial staff locks all of the doors to the Campus Center after 1 a.m. And, since I had lost my cell phone the previous day, I was not able to contact someone inside the newsroom to let me in.

So, after pondering what to do, I went into the adjacent parking garage, and managed to gain access into the building through an obscure underground entrance. Once inside the newsroom, I gave a call to the UMass PD to see if they had any comment on the situation at that time. I managed to get through to a dispatcher, but he said he couldn’t discuss the matter further.

And, then, I began to write.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I had to write the story as quickly as I could in order to get it in that Monday’s print edition of the paper. I would never say that I’m a fast writer – because I’m not – but I managed to get the story done by about 2:15 a.m. The Collegian has a fairly late press time for a daily newspaper, which definitely helped me out.

And, after I wrote the story, it was reviewed by two editors and then placed in the paper.

I managed to get back to my room by about 2:50 a.m. But due to an adrenaline rush, I didn’t manage to get to sleep until about 4:30 that morning.  And I woke up about two hours later, at 6:30 – earlier than I normally wake up – and got ready to head to journalism class.

I managed to get a brief nap in that afternoon, but that still didn’t make up for the amount of sleep I lost. But, sometimes, journalists have to sacrifice things in their personal lives in order to cover a story.

It was definitely worth that minuscule sacrifice to cover that story.

Here’s the online version of the story with my colleague’s video:


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