The Graduation Story

via mit.edu

via mit.edu

The trick with graduations is to have fun.

I don’t care if you covering a college or a high school graduation, you have to go into it with a smile. It’ll be easier for you and for whoever you interview. I can guarantee it.

Graduations are either too long, too hot, too smelly or all of those things and more. Even with perfect weather, something can always go wrong.

A big mistake a reporter can do is to rely on the speeches, which, if awful, can lead to a terrible story.

The biggest thing I can tell someone covering a graduation, is to talk to as many graduates as possible.

And be smart and get to the school, or field, early. There’s no way you’ll be able to get someone to talk to you for a solid three minutes after the ceremony. It’s just not going to happen.

Before the ceremony is the best time because you can find the graduates,especially the salutatorian and valedictorian  waiting somewhere together. They may be shy at first, but they are all excited and that’s the best time to talk to them.

With any man on the street story, you are going to have to talk to at least 10 graduates to ensure that you have great quotes. But, more importantly, to ensure that you are going to have a great lead.

For me, I always use one graduate who isn’t the valedictorian or salutatorian to lead my story.

They have to be quirky or have a good story and they do the work for you. All you have to do is tell their story and ease into the entire graduation. It’ll flow better than you think.

When you write the story that way, I think you have a lot more fun doing it because it’s not just a graduation story because you’ve made it into a story of young adults who know what they want to do, know where they want to go and their ready for what lies ahead.

Speeches are speeches, but hearing it from the mouth of the kids is what helps to set the story apart.

Your editors will thank you for it.

Plus, writing it this way keeps you on your toes and makes you really think about how you are writing the story. It’s okay to get creative with them.

Make them your own.

Jonathan

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