A journalist needs certain tools. The primary tools are the senses, and the secondary tools are pen and paper.
I prefer to use what I call my “Reporter’s Notebook.”
A few criteria exist for such a tool.
1. It has to be portable. If I cannot cram it into my little purse, it is too large. If I cannot hold it comfortably in my grasp, it is too bulky. If it is streamline and can easily be grabbed from my bag, it is “just right.” (As the three bears in Goldilocks say.)
2. It has to look professional. I just cannot carry around a notebook with some silly design on the cover. A minimalistic look is my preference, so a one-colored notebook meets my needs exactly.
3. It has to be blank. With the exception of lined pages, no fluff is necessary. It does not need pre-printed quotes or graphics, lines that signify “date” and “time” or faint, patterned backgrounds. Just a bound book of empty paper – that is enough.
Alas, what is a perfectly wonderful Reporter’s Notebook without its soulmate companion: the pen.
The only true criterion concerning a pen is that I have one with which to write. Size, type, and ink color are all peripheral factors in a moment where the overarching need is for words to be recorded on paper.
However, when the opportunity presents itself, a Sharpie pen is the best variety. It rests comfortably in my hand, its ink is smooth and its tip glide across the page.
This Christmas I was given a highly-esteemed Moleskin notebook by my sister and a pack of black Sharpie pens by my brother. (They know me well.)
I carry these tools with me always; I never know when I may want to jot down a story idea or an inspiring quote. I will bring them with me as I conduct interviews and prepare for stories. If you were to glance inside my Reporter’s notebook, you would get a glimpse at my thought processes through bullet points, quotations, sketches, and arrows.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to use my journalist tools and write about an event I attended. It was called “Intervene,” and it was hosted by North Star Initiative . The purpose of the conference was to inform people in the Lancaster area about sex-trafficking – how to recognize victims and how to promote healing.Through different avenues, I have developed a passion for this cause, so, needless to say, I was excited to take part in it. The day was full of both educational and heartbreaking moments. I walked away impacted at my core.
More information on North Star Initiative and Intervene here: http://northstarinitiative.org
I brought my trusty notebook and Sharpie pen with me, of course. I am going to write a report narrating the events of the day for a Freestyle article (stay tuned!).
Due to the Intervene conference, many of the pages of my notebook are now full of text. An even greater number of pages remain blank – pages with line after line running parallel across them, longing for the ink of a pen or the scribble of a pencil.
They are pages of potential, waiting to be filled.