The Recurring Dilemma of Researching an Article

I’m in the middle of researching an article for Truthdig.com and I’m reflecting on the process and how not to get surprised when my research may take me to some unexpected places. And in particular, this story.

I pitched a particular point of view and was sure I was solid in my approach. But, guess what? While my initial approach did hold up, my interviews took me into a new and unexpected direction. What to do? It is important that the stories have a focus and that you can support your argument. I did have that, but I also discovered an unanticipated perspective as well.

My challenge, therefore is about melding these points of views together so the piece is not something totally different than what I pitched but also reflected my new information.

A continuing challenge is arranging all the various interviews and facts so that it flows easily. Keeping the interviews organized is critically important. I always send the quote I’m going to use to the person to be sure I understand them correctly. I don’t send the article, just the quote. More than once I’ve been very glad. It may seem odd that a quote isn’t just a quote. Not always.  

I had the good fortune of interviewing two academics, one from Stanford and one from San Francisco State University. Each of these gentlemen were great interviews. They were clever, well spoken, passionate and had solid arguments. They provided me with excellent information in very clear language that was easy to use.

It’s happened more than once. When I have done preliminary discovery of a story and I confident additional research will follow that thread, it is not unusual it may veer off in another direction. Usually this can happen with fresh exploration which is important.  You’d think I would be used to it by now, but no. What I need to get used to is being flexible enough not to let it throw me.

However, as always, my challenge is to deliver the story I pitched and submit something that Truthdig.com will find acceptable and meet their standards.

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