I think I’ve figured it out. I’ve figured out why so many of my calls have not been returned. Why so many emails have been no more than two line replies. Why so many of the people I have met in the past two weeks, have answered my questions by simply shaking their heads and in some lucky instances offering a referral.
Shop owners, developers, centre managers and some civil servants have all shied away when I dropped the big “r” word. Is too serious for them to take a chance, to make an official statement or even give an honest opinion?
Is the “r” word the thing that has closed off pathways to people who seemed like the most legitimate and potentially helpful sources?
Research. That is the “r” word.
In the past when I’ve worked on stories people have been open and keen to indulge me. Quick to answer my questions, send additional resources even.
I suppose this is not just any story though. It is thee story.
It’s a test, a challenge and a chance to bring together our vast set of skills. To prod and poke, not tire when it gets too daunting, to show that we’re capable. Capable of leaving shallow waters and venturing deeper. Of digging and digging until we find a story that hasn’t been told. Of being able to see angles that others have missed. Capable of being the kind of journalists we’ve been groomed to be.
The “r” word takes us to another level. It’s not a a matter of scratching the surface. It’s running up and down and around and around, it’s writing and re-writing, shooting and re-shooting. It’s what will launch us into greatness.
I’m trying to swallow the “r” word, to imbibe it, digest it and eventually produce something worthy. Onwards and upwards.