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“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, Michelle”

Posted by on Feb 8, 2009 in Blog, theory, web, writing | No Comments

As some of you may know, my reporting beat at Medill right now is medical research.  One of my recent struggles has been fulfilling my class’ requirements for taking pictures, which is tough to do when dealing with large Chicago hospitals.  Perseverance can get you to speak to the chief of surgery, but it’s very hard to get in the door to take a photo.  As I commented to one of my professors that I meant to do a diagram to make up for this, but instead had merely found a picture of an x-ray that showed the device I was writing about, the professor told me, “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, Michelle.”

Good point.  It doesn’t make me want to do less with diagrams, but if another piece of media can do a better job than original content could, why push it?  I thought this reflects nicely on the fact that while user-generated content can bring interesting perspectives to the news, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things still best left to journalists operating in the traditional way.

Twitter can be great for getting the pulse of what people think about the issue, but that’s in the Twitterverse (I need a better word than that).  Journalists don’t have to reinvent stopping people on the street asking for their thoughts.

It’s a calming, but scary, thought.  Take it too far, and there will be no reinvention of journalism, and obviously the status quo is not without fault.

But for someone who errs on the side of a hyperactive overzealous obsession for journalism (it’s a good thing, really!), maybe once in a while it’s time to relax and use what is already out there.

Oh, and my solution to the picture issue – find medical research at smaller labs.  It’s working out well so far, but I’ll keep you posted.

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