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Kids & Politics

September 10, 2009

Today was reporting assignment #2.

Because today was the first day of public school in New York our assignment was to choose an area, go to a school in the neighborhood and write a back to school story. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do kids, so this was an especially ironic choice for a story.Good news? The neighborhood that I chose was Greenwich Village, a cool, artsy part of town where I would kill to live.

Bad news? It was still a school I had to write about. An elementary school, at that. Of course interacting with any kids would make me cringe (sorry Moms and Dads), but little kids are especially difficult because they always have a tendency to be sticky or have smudges on their face– something I don’t find cute. Guess it’s a parent thing…

Anyway, I chose PS 41 Greenwich Village Elementary. I got up earlier than usual to be at the school before it opened, hoping to catch parents before dropping off their little ones. My main concern wasn’t dealing with children, but instead what it always is when I’m out on assignment: finding people willing to talk to me. I was happily surprised to find that everyone I asked to interview not only agreed but was very chatty, making it easy for me to get quotes– another reason why I love the Village.

While interviewing (I was on a roll!) guess who decides to show up? Friggin’ mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. A serendipitous twist to my story, but not one that I welcomed. To be honest, after last week’s story about him plus all of the TV coverage because of the election next week I was sick of seeing his mug. But I knew my editor was going to want me to go with this angle.

Bill did his thing, schmoozing with parents and I stood by looking up at the sky– literally; it had started sprinkling and I didn’t have an umbrella. I guess one of his PR guys saw my reporter’s notebook in hand because he came up to me, making small talk. I figured I should just cut to the chase, and he said he would get me an interview. Despite my reluctance to make my story politically-driven, I still knew this was a lucky opportunity and I jumped at it.

A few minutes passed and after speaking with parents Bill came up to me. I introduced myself, very official, might I add, and I asked him what he remembers most about his first day of school. I knew I threw him off. He was prepared to give his mayoral candidacy spiel, but I didn’t care about that. I wanted to know about the first day of school.

By the way, his favorite subjects in elementary school were Social Studies and English.

Before I left I called my editor to give her an update, and just as I thought she wanted me to use the Thompson angle. Can I call ’em or what?

Before returning to the newsroom I grabbed lunch and walked around to clear my head. When I got back I had a few hours left to bang out yet another Bill Thompson story- this time with words like “school” sparsely sprinkled throughout.

In the end I produced what I thought to be a pretty damn good article, considering the fact that I didn’t want to use that particular angle in the first place.

Lesson learned: when life hands you politics, make lemonade.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sonja permalink
    September 11, 2009 2:59 PM

    I love your blog. You are now my favorite roving reporter:)!!!

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