Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blind luck

Know what's weird? How no one in Carleton journalism ever seems to hand in something that's complete and total crap.

I'm not talking about things that aren't very good. That business article I wrote for Reporting Methods, where I used Sonya's accountant cousin as my financial expert and pulled a quote from an interview with a Rogers media relation person who told me I had no story, comes to mind.

I'm talking about things that are the product of so many things falling through at the last minute you can't pull yourself out of the hole you've dug. Articles with no sources, for example, or quotes from totally irrelevant people. TV stories with three minutes of dead gasping fish rolling behind the voice over (OK, that was one time). Radio shows with dead air filled by the host tap dancing.

It would be nice to think this is because we're all so amazingly talented and professional we wouldn't let this happen. But part of it is definitely total, sheer, statistically mind-boggling luck. Someone always calls at the last possible second. Suddenly, you overhear a couple at the grocery store and discover they're exactly the source you're looking for. Crazy things like that.

One of the hardest things about journalism is a lot of it depends on other people. If no one calls you back or agrees to be interviewed, you're out of luck. But somehow, something always pulls through. Seriously. Always. Like I said, there's never been a complete, total unsalvagable disaster.

What are the odds? Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself.

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