By Allie Burger
I captured one of the most rewarding moments of my life on Twitter this past Sunday from the comfort of my couch in sweatpants.
This past weekend, I had my first article published as a freelancer for the Chicago Tribune.
The story came out online last Friday and in print on Sunday. I spent most of Sunday swarming the city collecting a dozen hard copies of the print edition for family members and mentors. My roommate and classmate, Rosie Langello, even took a video of my reaction when I saw my byline in print for the first time:
— Rosie Langello (@RosieLangello) January 22, 2017
That short moment of excitement, though, was the payoff for months of hard work and grinding.
I went into methods fall quarter with the hefty goal of having one of my pieces published by a major outlet. During the quarter, I decided to cover Loyola women’s basketball as my beat. I knew the team was coming off a big coaching scandal and thought maybe, if I was lucky and diligent, I could capitalize on the opportunity to tell a follow-up story.
I did my research and found out that of the ten players who requested transfers away from the program, only one decided to come back and play under Kate Achter, the new head coach.
I pitched a feature on the player to my classroom editor, ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson, who said that it sounded like a great story and if it was done well, she would pitch it to The Tribune.
I built up my sources for two months, collected way too many hours’ worth of quotes and whittled them down to write a mediocre first draft. With hours and hours of Isaacson’s support and guidance, the piece was edited down and sent over to one of the Tribune’s sports editors.
There it sat for the last month. I was nervous. I’d worked so hard. They said it was good, they wanted to use it. But deadline changes and radio silence filled a few weeks of winter break and I thought if anything, I would have a good clip to show in the future.
Then the email came a few weeks ago from one of the Tribune editors. They were going to take photos for the piece and had a run date set. It was really happening!
Isaacson texted me this message last Sunday, “Looking at your story in print! So exciting!”
I could not have had this opportunity without her help. Thanks to Medill, this opportunity came to be. And as I looked at that byline in real ink, I could not be happier with my decision to leave Los Angeles and fly 2,000 miles east to become a better journalist, even if it meant experiencing my first real winter in the process.