I Should Be More Patient


Sometimes I get overwhelmed at work. Not overwhelmed with the lack of parking in Northwest Portland, or even the amount of papers on my desk. Overwhelmed by very intelligent men and women at my work who make everything look easy, and I’m just an intern, enthusiastic but clueless.

Here, it’s easy to hide behind research all day. City financial reports, Police Bureau Use of Force policies, etc. There are columns of it at my work desk. I could literally build a fort out of all the documents and public records I’ve read, rope it off with red tape and then write my own 50-page No Grown-Ups Allowed policy. It’s the sort of thing that makes me realize why so many journalists end up going to law school: just to make sense of everything. The words all sound the same, but a trained eye knows what to look for.

I talked about documents in my first post, but learning how to dig is an entirely different skill than learning when to dig. Recently, the book Watchdog Journalism by Stephen Barry came across my desk. Amid the dictionaries, Oregon Blue Books and more dictionaries, this one caught my attention somehow. The book details strong, famous examples of prize-winning investigative reporting from unassuming rumor to full-on exposé; snowflake to avalanche.

In this book there was a report about a group of reporters who sit just a few feet from me. These pros liken themselves to catfish, sifting through junk in the riverbed for even a tiny morsel of food. One salacious rumor and trained searching through city documents eventually transformed into a story that dismantled of one of the most powerful men in Oregon’s history. I was hooked on their story, as I’d never worked up the courage to ask them about it. I grabbed the book, ran (drove) home and read it like that kid from The Neverending Story.

What I try to take from this is to be patient, and try to keep learning.

Troy Brynelson

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5 Responses to I Should Be More Patient

  1. First of all, wow what a well written post. You are a great written communicator. In addition, I think we all get intimidated in our own way. Levit talks about agency speak a lot in our book and I feel super intimidated at work especially around my supervisor when she says adjectives I don’t know or talks about people I’ve never heard of. It is super scary to feel like you don’t know enough about what you want to do. But you are right, we need to be patient and hopefully we’ll all be the ones intimidating the intern one day.

  2. sarahbrown90 says:

    I totally get where you’re coming from! It is somewhat frustrating and intimidating to see people around you making the job look so easy. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that most of them have at least 12 years under their belt. I’m sure they were feeling exactly how we do now when they first started. It is definitely hard to be patient, waiting for that success and wanting to know everything immediately, but you’re right. We just have to keep learning. Most of the stuff we do learn is by making those mistakes because we don’t know everything yet.

  3. pdxsx says:

    Troy, you should ask Nigel out for coffee or lunch. Just because he won a Pulitzer Prize doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to eat or use caffeine. He’s also very nice and I’m certain he’d be willing to give you some details about that story (as well as the Sam Adams-Breedlove scandal). He’s a great guy and has spoken with my PDXSX classes in the past.

    ~J

  4. Troy this is a great post. I’m starting to find this is one of the most difficult parts of my internship as well. But like Sarah said, they have years of experience. Hopefully soon we will be able to look back at these moments and laugh.

  5. Good writing, Troy. You should definitely take Josh’s advice and ask him out for coffee. Even though we’re little interns, intimidated by the big guys, I’m sure he would take it as a compliment that you want to know more about his background. Then, in the future you’ll be impressed but not terrified. We all know how you feel though, hopefully these timid intern days will turn into confident employee years.

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