For every writing assignment I give my students, Ithink I know about how long it should take them to gather news, organize their facts, take a picture and craft the whole thing into a story worth a reader's time. After today, I have a whole new appreciation of the pressure they feel when they receive an assignment. I certainly felt the pressure of accurately getting down every word - and there were a lot of very important words from Leonard Downie Jr - and putting them into a reasonable ( I hope) context. I also learned that I like my Canon Rebel a whole lot more than my little Canon for inside shooting.
We as teachers need these real experiences for several reasons. Putting us in the position of reporter requires us to sharpen our own tools. For example, I now realize the importance of helping my students formulate an approach or strategy for organizing their notes before writing a story with focus. We need exposure to industry pros like Downie, Milton Coleman and Rob Schumacher to remind us of why we teach this craft - there are real jobs waiting for those students who are the best prepared. Like Downie pointed out, this (journalism) is not a job, it's a calling. When we're called on to demonstrate what we know (and to be shown where we need help), we are taking the steps to help better prepare them.