The benefit of being second
A journalist was telling the story of an assignment early in his career where a prominent local athlete was going through a health scare. What stood out to me, rather than the reasons for covering the story, was the way he went about accessing the subject.
Instead of staking out the hospital entrance like a paparazzo, he wrote a letter to the family letting them know that if they ever wanted to tell their story, he’d get to know them and do it right. Months later, the family got in touch and he got the scoop that those who were first on the scene didn’t.
In a space where “first reported by” is a badge of honor, it was a rare consideration of privacy, respect, and putting concern for another above a short term result. And it worked.
There was a story there, an award-winning one, in fact, and despite the urge to get in, get out, and get on to the next one, the writer took a breath, made a thoughtful, human offer, and made his peace with whatever they decided.
It’s something I’ll remember the next time I’m rushing to not miss out on something. That thoughtfulness takes time, but it also lasts longer.