An Experiment in Experience Journalism

JUPITER, Fla. — During my senior year at Mizzou, I finally got to take a class I’d been eying since entering the School of Journalism. I don’t recall the number — it was somewhere in the 300s — but I do remember the unofficial title we had for it: our immersion project.

An exercise in long-form journalism, the semester’s assignment was to plant yourself inside a story, wallow in it for more than a month, and then emerge with a deep, penetrating and, in some cases, personal story about the experience. In short, the idea was to immerse yourself in the story. Today, we might call this embedding. Students would work at shelters. They would ride along with a high school team for a season. They’d go through a round of cancer treatments with the family of a patient. I spent my semester entrenched in the Kenny Hulshof campaign for Congress, and by the end I was able to chronicle from behind closed doors how a Republican won Missouri’s ninth district for the first time in more than Continue reading

‘Twas the Night Before Spring Training

JUPITER, Fla. — This afternoon, on the eve of report day for St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers, the clubbies continued setting up the clubhouse by hanging jerseys at each locker … with, um, care.

I snapped a picture of the corner awaiting position players when they arrive:

Jerseys hanging at lockers in the Cardinals' clubhouse in the spring training complex at Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 17, 2012, two days before the team's first official workout.

The unopened bags, the anticipation of spring training’s opening, the jerseys hung ever so carefully — why that phrase kept clinking around in my skull all afternoon and the obvious result was — what else? — a poem, starring the local nine and even some of the journalists who cover the club. Here goes.

‘Twas the Night Before Spring Training

‘Twas the night before spring training, when all through the clubhouse

Not a reliever was warming, not even a Motte

The jerseys were hung by their lockers with care,

in hopes that the Cardinals soon would be there.

 

The baseballs are nestled, all rubbed up with mud,

eager for that whack that smears the signature from Bud.

And Hummel at his keyboard, and I on the blog,

had just sent our stories to beat a deadline slog.

 

When out on Field 1, there arose such a clatter Continue reading