As a political science major, the idea of profiling professors in this field and their election research attracted me instantly. It would combine my academic knowledge of politics and the election with my passion for writing and storytelling.
Contacting professors became a challenge in terms of finding people with the time — and will – to speak with me. However, much to my surprise, the real struggle was translating this raw information into a story readers would enjoy – and understand.
That second part, the understanding, surprised me when it came time to write the story. All the discussion about methodology, political mandates, partisan cheerleading, and other fancy political terms made sense to me. However, to the average person who may not focus on our political system every day, the rhetoric can easily confuse. What seemed like an easy assignment turned into the difficult task of discerning which language would best convey the ideas to readers.
I think my struggle represents a wider issue among young journalists like myself: We forget who we write for. We get so caught up in our ideas, and the excitement of finding a mass of information, that we forget as journalists it is our job to act as the translator for the public. Without that important role being thoughtfully considered, all the work means nothing. What good would an article be if people can’t understand it?
– Caroline Sage