It all started on a Monday. Well, Sunday evening to be exact. We had just been dismissed from the third day of the Grant Magazine Summer Academy, and had been assigned an article topic that we would pursue the rest of the week with a partner. Despite the slightly intimidating prospect of working with an unfamiliar face, the assignment itself seemed doable and we were looking forward to the week that lay ahead.
But on the last afternoon before the assignment was to be turned in, we sat on a park bench in Grant Park with nothing. Everything we had tried to do over the course of the week had all just become one big dead end. But somehow, it didn’t feel that bad.
Failure is hard, but sometimes it’s something that has to happen. That’s not to say that we necessarily failed this week, but we faced obstacles and came out with the ability to overcome them. Journalism is difficult, something that we both knew coming in, and it takes a great deal of practice and mistakes before wrapping your head around it. We took our first step toward that this week.
But before we can look forward, we have to reflect back on the events of the past week. Specifically, the moment when we first realized the week may not go as smoothly as we had anticipated. From day one, both of us had been under the impression that once we got our interviews done, the rest of the assignment would flow nicely. With this prospect in mind, we had high hopes as we first explored the Trackers website. These hopes deflated a bit as we discovered that the next summer camp hosted by the Trackers would not be in session at Grant until the week after our story was due.
We left voicemails and emails, but neither was answered for several days. When we got in contact with Grant’s Trackers staff, we found out that none of them actually had permission to be interviewed unless it was cleared by the head administrator. We were given that number, too, but got a voicemail. We decided that our best remaining option was to take the bus out to the headquarters in Milwaukie.
When we arrived 42 minutes later, we got to the door and found out it was locked. Eventually, someone saw us outside and let us in, but after talking to the founder, we realized that the soonest we could interview him would be too late.
It’s safe to say that it was a difficult week, but if anything, we came out of it with persistence. We didn’t live up to our expectations, but that’s not necessarily something that was in our control. We reminded ourselves that we tried as hard as we could, and that’s really all we can try to do. In all honesty, it was a bit like a roller coaster ride (admittedly not one we’d like to go on again) but complete with unexpected twists and turns that can put your stomach in a knot yet leave you feeling satisfied and rounded at the end of the ride. We hope, ultimately, that we can use the insight that we gained from this experience to continue to grow and better ourselves as people, as well as journalists. The bottom line, we feel, is this: journalism may not always be easy, but the challenge is going to be worth it in the end. From now on, we know that there is nothing we can do but improve.