EDITORíS DESK: Life in the sausage factory
You know the old saying about sausages? That it's better just to eat them than to know how they're made? Well, the same kind of adage could be applied to putting together news stories. Of course, there are some in the trade who seem to be imbued with knowledge on almost any subject and are additionally
blessed with the powers to speedily gauge all the information bits needed for a story, the most expedient way to gather them and exactly what people to talk to.
To paraphrase Bobby Dylan, that ain't me, babe. Though I can say I've gotten pretty good at leaving voice-mail messages (I had nowhere to go but up after the first time I was confronted by that innovation in 1980 and my effort was so terrible that the recipient called my then-publisher to ask if yours truly had full grasp of his faculties. But sadly, nowadays people don't even listen to carefully concocted voice-mail messages; they just punch the dial button for your number and then you have to explain it again.) But I digress. The point I'm inching my way towards is that for us average-type news guys, every story presents a stop/start/ponder-a-while challenge of comprehension, development and finally (with any luck) the production of a series of helpful sentences.
As if that weren't sausage-y enough, there's something else that can muddle the process - the so-called "bigger and better deal" (BBD). The idea is that we sausage-makers - er, journalists - theoretically should always be eager to discover enhancements to the stories we're working on... even if they emerge right at deadline.
Which is pretty much what happened this issue with the flooding story. It started innocently enough. In checking with the city about fire-impacted drainages, I was told that Fountain Creek was being handled by the county. So I did due diligence there (I thought), only to learn (at deadline - not her fault) from Commissioner Clark the sad state of funding for the local flood-control effort. Oh no, but my story was already written. Oh well. BBD kicked in, and I cooked up what I could. Here's hoping it tastes like sausage.