When your grade is hanging by a 20-something thread.
I get that I’m not the worlds’ most amazing student. I can see that group projects suck. But when I’m 3 decimal places away from an A, and the only thing holding me back is that the other student assigned to fact-check my document hasn’t even looked at it in more than a week, it can make a guy a bit cagey.
Fact checking in itself is interesting – I guess some big deal newspapers have fact checkers (interns) who go after probably the most controversial or biggest-name writers. (Not the New York Times though? Jayson Blair?)
In this class, your grade can be made or broken by the fact checker. One error slips through and both reporter and fact checker get an F for the assignment. So when it came my turn to fact check, I dutifully plodded through paragraph after paragraph, made calls, checked documents and did the work within a day or two.
Now I wait. How hard can this be? I’ve got a profile relying 90 percent on the voice of one guy. It’s literally one phone call and you read the story out loud and let him digest it, and maybe muck around with the wording if he’s feeling particularly assy.
Today is truth day. I’ll be in class this afternoon, facing my fact checkers, one of whom keeps logging me into the school computers because my J-school password has never worked. I guess I’ll have to find a way to gaze balefully as she makes it possible for me to keep up with the class.
Karl Hille lived and breathed local news beat reporting in Greenbelt and the Baltimore/Washington region for more than 12 years until the 2007 recession. While learning and improving the online side of the Baltimore Examiner operations, his platform dropped out from under his feet, then his rebound job at a regional business news magazine downsized him three months later. Now, working for the “dark side” – public communications work by day for the awesome government agency – he is going back to school to find the critical intersection of news, investigation, and the Internet – and re-learning how to be a student while he’s the only guy on campus sporting a fedora.