Monday, 7 January 2013

IPP takes big step forward

I said in my last post that I have been feeling very stressed about my IPP, and worried about getting everything done by the due date. But another big concern about the IPP was wondering if anyone would actually find it interesting and read it. That is why I am so happy about what happened while I was doing my work placement at the Winnipeg Free Press.

On my first day at the Free Press, reporter Gabrielle Giroday asked me what I was going to pitch to the editors. I was not expecting the question and fumbled through some answer about how I am doing an IPP about cold cases and could pitch the Edith Smallpiece story. Giroday looked right at me and told me to go pitch it.

At that point, I had been at the Free Press for only a few hours, and was not feeling confident about just walking up to one of the editors and pitching a cold case story, but I did it and they liked the idea right away.

Giroday helped me fix my lead and improve my story and I sent it in still wondering if anyone would like it. Well the Edith Smallpiece story ran on the last Monday of my placement, and I'll admit it was a good feeling to see my story on B1. The response to the story from the Free Press editors was good, and it was the first time I realized that people might actually find my IPP interesting.

I assumed that would be the last of my IPP stories being run at the Free Press, but one day after it ran, Giroday told me I should try to get one more up before I leave. I assumed this was an impossible task but remembered a cold case story I had heard about just a few days before about a missing man named Brent Staple. .

I had absolutely no leads for the story, but did everything I could to track down the sister of the missing man and the lead investigator on the case, and somehow it all came together in three days. Once again I had an IPP story on B1 and this one was tweeted out by both Giroday and Free Press justice reporter Mike McIntyre.

I have also had amazing conversations with the people I have interviewed. People have spilled their hearts out to me, cried while speaking to me and for both stories, I have heard the desperation in people's voices. I realize I can't bring back these people's loved ones but in a way I hope that these stories can help bring some much needed attention to these stories.

A week after the work placement, I got an email from the Free Press saying they want to continue publishing my IPP. To go from pitching this idea and wondering if I could actually pull it off, to having it being published and promoted in the city's most read paper is a good feeling. I know I still have a lot to do to get this project finished but at least I don't have to worry that there will be an audience for the stories.