WASHINGTON – This week was one of firsts for me. Before this week, I had never covered an event that garnered worldwide attention, never seen so many people in one place and never felt so confident in my decision to become a journalist.
While covering Pope Francis’ visit to Washington this week I stumbled across some dos and don’ts for covering events of this magnitude.
For every action there is a reaction so I ask myself: What would the pope do?
Stay hydrated, but no too hydrated
I arrived to the West Lawn of the Capitol at 6 a.m. and didn’t leave until 11:30 a.m. There were about 10 portable toilets.
Do drink plenty of water: The quandary is whether to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. The answer is yes.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get in line for one of the few portable toilets: Waiting until your body alerts you is a problem when the wait is 45 minutes.
Trust your instincts
When you second guess yourself, you pass up opportunities that could have made your story stronger.
Don’t wait around: During Day 1 of pope coverage I was looking for the ideal person to interview. Ten people dressed for the the office said no to an interview. I was wasting my time looking for the perfect source, even though there were plenty of people around. It was in this mistake that I stumbled across my solution.
Do trust your instinct: At Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, I noticed a cute toddler on his father’s shoulders. After the pope passed by in his Fiat, I turned to walk away when I knew I should talk to them. This interview was one of the best of the day.
Jump out of the anti-social bubble
Now more than ever, technology is overtaking person-to-person interactions. It’s easy to avoid eye contact when you are looking down at a screen.
Do enjoy the world around you: The beauty of being a journalist is being forced out of our new-age technological bubble and meeting people you never would have talked to if your job didn’t depend on it.
Don’t focus solely on job – live in the moment: I never thought that covering the pope’s trip to Washington would turn into such a big lesson. His visit was more than just being able to report on one of the most prominent social and religious figures of this century. It was about stepping back and finding the lessons hidden in the cracks.
Reach reporter Amanda Guillen at email@example.com or 202-408-1490. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook, Instagram and follow us on Twitter.
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