Journalistic hand holding

Digging around the Review’s archives last week for stories to submit to the California Newspaper and Publishers Association contest, I found quite a few pieces that would have been promising had I gone a step further.  You know the step that requires you to make that extra call? Find that last perspective? Add the graph that gives it wider context?

Often the wider context seems painfully obvious at the time. Sometimes it feels like I’m connecting the dots for readers who presumably know the basics of what’s going on outside Half Moon Bay. Paging through the archives, it was obvious that a few months, or even a year, can dim the timeliness of such stories. So my thought is to plug in those extra graphs in the top third of the story, even though writing them feels like hand holding. Maybe some of my hesitation is because it’s sometimes awkward to weave such “wider-context” blurbs into the fabric of an otherwise local story.

Some weeks, writing nine or 10 is an overwhelming task. Truth be told, for the five or so stories that beg for those “extra steps,” it’s just a matter of calling up an expert at Stanford, or googling around for a national news story that articulates the wider trend.