I finished my first draft of my final story and I kind of hated it. There was no core element holding it together, so it read like timeline of what happened during the cruise. If I was general reader, I wouldn’t get past the first paragraph.
Fortunately, Kelly and I were able to talk it through and figure out what was missing. As I was writing the first draft, the focus of the story shifted and I realized that my original plan of writing two separate stories was complicating the process rather than simplifying it. Instead of struggling against the rules I had set for myself, we decided that it makes much more sense to change them.
It’s quite easy to get tunnel vision with your own work and become too attached to the plan you made. When you’ve been staring at a word document for days, trying to make a story fit into the outline you’ve prepared, you need that secondary person to bring in a different perspective. The new plan is to write a single story from my perspective about the cruise, focusing on what makes these people excited to spend 10 days sleep deprived and seasick on a research vessel.
In other news, I made my first poster! Next Wednesday is the REU poster session at OIMB where all of the REU interns will present what they’ve been working on this summer. When I was planning my poster, I had a hard time fitting it into the scientific format. Again, it took an outside perspective (Kelly) to help me escape my tunnel vision and realize that I should create a poster that fits my project, not fit my project to the poster.
After designing the content and flow of my presentation, I realized that my journalism poster had many parallels to the scientific poster, just with different headings. The poster is basically showing the outcome of an experiment on myself (joining a research cruise for the first time), highlighting the methods and process (what I did throughout the cruise) and sharing the results (how my perspective of scientists and the scientific process changed).
The lesson this week is that getting too preoccupied with the rules can stifle the creative content that people will enjoy. As I start the next draft of the new story, I plan on doing whatever feels right and adding in the rules later.
I am a third year journalism student at the University of Oregon with a focus in traditional written journalism and interview techniques. Science communication is an underrepresented field of journalism that I’m excited to explore and produce content for through this internship.