Saturday, March 26, 2011

Interesting week

It's been a cool week in some ways, and weird in others. First off, I got over being sick only to have hubby and kiddo get sick. We went from balmy springlike temperatures to a second winter. The USA invaded Libya. And just when I thought I had finished my freelance assignments for the month (all 18 of them) I got offered my 19th assignment----a chance to write a piece for the Washington Post.

Before you start picturing me as a future Pulitzer winner in All the President's Men, take heart---it was basically a puff piece for the Washington edition's (not the venerable national edition, alas) real estate section. The content aggregator that is providing me with most of my work these days actually sells content to the Post (among other respectable outlets) and offered me the job. After taking over multiple last-minute assignments for other freelancers who couldn't meet their deadlines, I guess this content aggregator now views me as the go-to person to save their ass and deliver good content on short notice. Since I've never once had to revise a single story that I've delivered to these folks (for multiple clients), I figured I had this one in the bag.

The story was basically a profile of how various Washington-area property-management companies are contributing to Japan disaster relief efforts. Pulitzer Prize material it definitely was not, but at least I was writing about charity work instead of say, Brangelina. The Post editors even gave me all my sources, so I didn't have to do any legwork or digging to find my own sources like I usually do for my other clients.

However, this assignment wasn't without a learning curve. All the sources were basically PR people, which meant they had canned responses and didn't respond well to probing questions. I had to conduct a second interview of one of them----which I never do, and journalists always say is a sign of a bad interviewer----in order to get the angle my editor was looking for. I also had to go through several drafts on the deadline wire until my editor was satisfied. Which was definitely new territory for me. But then again, this type of article was a bit outside my usual subject area, and as I told her, sometimes it's good to stretch your chops a bit. Multiple rewrites and a hat-in-hand second interview can be a good way to do that.

Besides, it's the Washington Post. I'd walk backwards naked through a receiving line of blowtorches to get a Post assignment. What journalist wouldn't? Sure, my piece will be running in a tabloid Sunday-only print insert that is mostly full of apartment advertising, but hey, it's a start.


No comments:

Post a Comment