Emily’s Preview of the FRI Experience

As the Field Reporting Institute nears, I become increasingly nervous. Bill’s repeated warnings about the intensity of the three days ahead have coupled with my own insecurities about my fledgling reporting skills to produce some serious anxiety. Add to that a certain amount of excitement, and my emotional state could be called potentially unstable.

I am very excited for every single day—there is not one issue we will be covering that does not interest me.  I have proposed a story on the challenges of Roundup-resistant weeds for cotton farmers, but I am not certain this will be my final story. Both the woody biomass and forestry issues are intriguing and I am very interested to see the issues that have developed in Southeast Missouri due to flooding.

But I am anxious at the prospect of being “on” as a reporter for three days straight. Even just the one and a half hours we spent grilling Randy Miles was exhausting for me. All of my field interview experiences have been similarly taxing—there is so much to keep track of. Your notes, your recorder, the audio quality, the surrounding noise, your next question, your surroundings–add to that 14 other people with the same concerns and demands, and the trip looks daunting.

So I have no doubt this trip will be a challenge but I think the experience will be very useful. Without the stresses of transportation and finances, I will be able to focus on what is and isn’t working in my field reporting tactics. I also expect the quantity of information to be a serious boon of the trip. In nearly all the stories I’ve written for the Missourian, I’ve walked away from each feeling like a semi-expert on the topic. Every interview is like a self-directed class, where you can demand the information you need from an expert, to best grasp the situation at hand. I fully expect to feel very well-versed on three serious agricultural issues in MO by the end of this trip.

Emily Garnett


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