I had to smile the other day when I read a piece by a reporter kicking herself for not seeing a big story coming.
I’ve been there.
There was a time several years back when I went whole hog into blogging.
I forced myself to write a post a day, part of an effort to teach myself what this online world was all about.
I followed all the tips from the experts of the day. I linked my blog to my Twitter and my Facebook accounts. I commented on other people’s posts in hopes they would link back to mine. I reached out to other bloggers and mingled.
For a brief spell, I thought I had joined a unique community; their perspectives seemed so fresh and the exchange of ideas exhilarating.
Then reality hit. Some of the bloggers I met started running for public office, and their innocent rants suddenly seemed more calculating. Others quit when they secured a better job, their big thoughts just a way of promoting their attractiveness to potential suitors.
Everyone seemed to have an ulterior motive, one few made obvious when they reeled me in.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. I had seen this movie before as a business reporter. You can sometimes feel a big story brewing when a once publicity-shy company starts churning out press releases with almost weekly regularity.
Or when a big shot abruptly makes himself or herself available after years of stonewalling interview requests.
This shower of attention can be flattering, until you figure out the company in question is in trouble, or about to be sold or the CEO is fighting for survival.
It used to be enough to make me cynical. Now, I understand it to be just part of the process. Could we see the clues to Pepco’s decision last week to be acquired, or Orbital Sciences’s decision to pair up with ATK? Perhaps. But that’s why I like what we do. We report, and then wait for the rest of the story to materialize.
Then report again.