So why am I having such a hard time nailing down a story?
Last Thursday, my editor at The Washington Examiner, where I am an intern, came to me with a press release and told me to go to the Alexandria Detention Center. There, the former Alexandria police chief, who retired after being arrested for a DUI, would be giving a motivational talk to the inmates. This sounded interesting, so after some brief research and an intense session with Google Maps, I went out to get the story.
After a long ride on the Metro and a half-mile hike down the road, I arrived at the detention center and took a seat in the waiting area next to a guy with a lot of camera equipment who looked like he knew what he was doing. Our waiting was rewarded with the news that the press would not be allowed at this talk, although we were welcome to stand outside the detention center and wait for the speaker to come in. I called my editor, who did not answer, and waited a bit before deciding it was time to give it up because a) the camera guy was leaving too and b) the mosquitoes were biting really badly.
When I returned to the office empty-handed and early, my editor was apologetic about the incident, though he was upset that the press were not allowed after we were told we would be. He then gave me some info so I could do a small write-up about a dry-cleaning business that was offering free dry cleaning to the unemployed.
As I researched that little story, I discovered that this particular dry-cleaning business was no longer offering the special. I worked up the courage to let my editor know. He was nice about it, but proceeded to ask the not-so-encouraging question, “Are you the black hole of news today?”
On Tuesday, I knew I’d do better. Another editor gave me an assignment that had to do with a law in Maryland about only flying flags made in the U.S. More research yielded poor results. Conclusion: there was not enough material for me to do a story.
My editor came to me a little later and asked if I had indeed killed another story. When I responded affirmatively, he said, “Well, you are where stories go to die.”