The Story Behind The Story

When a news story breaks and you’re reporting on it, it takes over your life. Last Friday’s story about Dan DiDio leaving DC is a perfect case in point; it’s something that went from is this happening? to this is happening at breathtaking speed, faster than most — easily in single digits in terms of minutes — and from that point on, I was just in the thick of it with emails, phone calls and Twitter DMs.

(Twitter has proven to be one of the primary ways information on stories like this is shared, oddly enough — I learned more through Twitter than I did any other form of media, yesterday, and I’m not entirely sure how that happened. It wasn’t even this way a couple of years ago, but I digress.)

Partially, of course, all of this is driven by the impulse of I want to be the one to break the story, and the competitive urge there. I think THR was either first or second (behind to get the news out there, and certainly the first (or second) to be able to confirm it instead of speculating. That’s a nice feeling and something fun to boast about, but it also brings a bunch of people asking two things over and over again: “What actually happened?” and “How did you find out?”

Beyond the competitive journalistic impulse, there’s something deeper and more intense: the need to just find out the truth of the whole thing. Again using the DiDio story as an example, I knew he was out long before I knew why, with two very different versions of events having been shared with me by people in the know as the real reason. Obviously, it was unlikely that both could be true, and I just really, really wanted to know what was actually the case.

So, I kept digging and digging and updating the story and learning new things and talking to people about it, and suddenly it was two hours later and Chloe correctly pointed out that I hadn’t stood up or really even moved much for all that time, and that perhaps I needed a break. She was right; I went outside and it felt wonderful, but curiously alien and unusual at the same time.

Breaking news is, perhaps, why we’re in the game we’re in, but sometimes it makes us forget everything else out there.

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