Day Three: Learning the basics

by Tara Nguyen, June 17 2020


At around 7 a.m., I managed to roll out of bed and prep for the morning’s activities. As always, the mornings are rather quiet with a little bit of bed head and waiting for the caffeine to hit. I felt prepared and confident; I finished my headshot and portrait, and I did the first draft of the bio for my partner, Lucy. Oh, how quickly the day can change. 


Today kicked off with a lesson by Maya on reporting. She went over a few rules of reporting and it made me realize that my life is a lie. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I learned some skills that I had not realized or fully utilized before. 


Here’s a quick breakdown of what went down:


Rule #1: No S.O.B. (sitting on butt) journalism: Get out of the house, walk the community and don’t rely so heavily on web research — unless it’s for basic facts.

Rule #2: If your mother says "I love you," get a second source, meaning, try to get to the primary source and someone who isn’t so close so that it wouldn’t be biased.

Rule #3: Get the name of the dog. When you’re writing a story, if names are included, it makes the story more human.

Rule #4: You’re always on the clock — news doesn’t go by a nine-to-five.

Rule #5: You’re neither a cheerleader nor a prosecutor, you’re an observer. As journalists, sometimes we aren’t entirely allowed to express how we feel about a subject. Often, we’re just here to tell the audience what we see.

Rule #6: If a dog bites a man, it’s not news. If a man bites a dog, that’s news. 


After meeting with our instructors, we had a little time to get something to eat and get some work done. At that time, I was prepping for the interview with my vignette subject and reworking some edits and photos. 


For the last session of the day, we talked a little bit about the day’s news and hosted a guest speaker, Tomás Mier, a Mosaic alum and current intern for The Los Angeles Times. Mier spoke about his experience in reporting from high school and college and his work with People magazine. He shared some advice and an anecdote from when he had to write an obituary for a man who was a victim of COVID-19. 


Advice that stuck out to me was when he shared some techniques on interviewing, especially with finding ways to connect to the person being interviewed. He described it as making sure to not make the interviewee feel like we’re out to get them, or just waiting for them to slip up. Mier also recommended that we should keep in touch with other Mosaic students and to show up to journalism conferences with your resume. 


Once the session concluded, we all met with our instructors to see what’s next. For me, I had to actually do my interview over the phone for my vignette — that in itself was an experience I’m not exactly used to. It was a little awkward, and the blips of silence hurt more than they should have; as always, there is definitely some room for improvement in my interviewing skills. 

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