I realize that I’m still early in the process of building my own journalistic voice, but I think part, if not most, of the challenge in finding your voice is having your first attempts at creating a voice survive the editing process. Sometimes after my stories are edited I don’t feel like they are my story anymore.
One of the lead sports columnists at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is a Missouri School of Journalism graduate named Benjamin Hochman. After making stops in Louisiana and Colorado, Hochman and his off-the-cuff antics ended up working for his hometown newspaper. I wasn’t sure what the PD was thinking when they first hired him. My first impression of him was that he was a goofy guy more concerned about making Seinfeld jokes than journalism.
He has now worked for the paper for nearly a year, and I now appreciate his writing because he has an unmistakeable voice in everything he writes. This month he is working on a series about immigrants who used the St. Louis Cardinals to bond with their new city and country. In his most recent story you can almost hear him reading the words in his head as his fingers typed the piece.
I saw the story about the new Shakespeare’s restaurant as an opportunity to build my voice. The story gave me a chance to use my words to describe what I experienced to people who couldn’t be there. Overall I’m happy with how it turned out, even with the changes that were made during the editing process.
Again, it all comes down to getting better and better at reporting and writing. The voice will naturally come as I improve.