Water, water everywhere. And I'm no longer thirsty. Take that, Ancient Mariner.
Well, if by water, I mean news tips. And if by thirsty, I mean looking for something to cover.
About a week or two after the stay-at-home orders took effect, I found myself looking for something to do one day. I'd guess it was a Thursday, because Thursdays can be a little slow if there aren't city council or school board meetings to cover.
This week, I need about two or three of me. Why? Well, there's everything from county board and city council meetings to cover, plus there was a little boy with a new kidney, cities and counties concerned about their 2021 budgets, swimming pools that may or may not open, and a U.S. Senate candidate coming to the area because he wants to talk about hog farms, dairies and small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's a lot.
Stories with more to tell
All that said, there's a lot of things I'm still trying to get to, and it's all a matter of prioritizing.
For example, at Tuesday's Wabasha City Council meeting, more happened than I had room to write about while telling you about the swimming pools. My plan is to circle back to something from the meeting that wasn't really time sensitive and tell a better story than "Oh, hey, the city council made this quick vote that will take 400 words to really explain."
Pre-pandemic, when there wasn't as much concern about writing longer stories, I'd have simply dumped my notebook into the story, considered the issue discussed and moved along to the next thing. It's a habit newspaper reporters can get themselves into, and it's not always a bad thing. But the space for news stories is smaller in the print version of the newspaper, so we reporters need to avoid the "notebook dump."
Tuesday's meeting in Wabasha is just one example. There's a new business I want to profile that relates to an important pandemic-related issue. It's on my to-do list. I swear.
Can't get there from here
There are other story tips that I may or may not ever get to cover. The Winona County Law Enforcement Memorial Celebration was canceled. This is as much as I'll write about it. Not that I'm ignoring Winona. But that announcement didn't rank as high as, say, news about funding for the Winona-Fillmore Habitat for Humanity. (A brief on that is coming soon.)
And a Good Samaritan paying water bills in Eyota seemed like a better use of my time for now.
There will likely be more news tips — and I'm thinking this is happening across our virtual newsroom — where I need to make a tough call whether to cover it, brief it or simply let it pass. But in the meantime, I will do the best I can to bring you news that matters.
Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.