Something journalists tackle daily is finding meaningful stories in the course of our ordinary existence. This anecdote reminds us that that these stories are often right in front of us.
“The Reporter and the Record Egg”
My former editor was once a young reporter at a small paper in Maine. One day, a man, a farmer, called the city desk with a story idea. He said his chicken had hatched what he believed was probably a record egg. The editor dispatched Tom, who was also taking his own pictures. Tom reluctantly went, thinking that this had to be a career low – writing about an egg. He got out there, looked at the egg and listened to the farmer go on and on with pride. To Tom, it looked like, well, just a big egg, so he took his picture and went back to the newsroom, loudly laughing and complaining to his colleagues.
A few weeks later, he got a job at another daily. At his going-away party, someone gave him a copy of a picture of the egg in a frame as a joke gift. Tom went on to bigger things. But several years later, he was going through some old boxes and found that picture and he started crying. For the first time, he looked at the hands holding the egg.
They were the farmer’s hands- old, incredibly worn, covered with calluses and dirt in every crevice. He thought, here was this crusty man who worked so hard with his farm and who was so proud that one day he picked up the phone to call his local paper about an egg. And all Tom had seen was this stupid egg, not the man who was holding it. He was the story. So don’t get blinded by the egg. – Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal