So how does an event get turned into a story? Here are some examples – they are fictional but almost identical to what we do on a daily basis.
Their view is the envy of millions of football fans, but the work is not: Two dpa colleagues are in the stadium as Borussia Dortmund wins an important Champions League match. A dpa photographer is sitting directly behind the goal and taking dozens of photographs. As soon as the action is over, he selects the best pictures and sends them to colleagues in Frankfurt or Berlin, who forward them into the dpa system. Do we wait until the game is over? That was yesterday. The photographer is frustrated that he viewed all the best moments of the game through the eyepiece of his camera, but he is here for work.
His colleague is sitting at the very top with other spectators and can see the entire field from where he is sitting. With his laptop balanced on his legs, he hopes he does not miss a foul or a goal, while he is looking at the screen. Every goal is followed by a report and a summary at halftime.
A colleague calls him from Berlin: Is this really how it is spelled? Sorry, I switched two letters. It’s good that you caught that. Then it goes out. It makes its way throughout all of Germany and even elsewhere as people read the halftime analysis from their cellphones.
The final report is being written in parallel. Exactly nine seconds after the final whistle is blown, the headline runs “Dortmund moves to semifinals after 4:3 win in Champions League match.” Wait for the text for an hour after the game is over? That was yesterday.
The work is not over yet. The photographer runs around trying to capture the best scences of the winning and losing team. He’ll even photograph work is not done. The photographer tries to photograph the best scenes of the celebrating players, and the disappointed losers. He’ll even take photographs of fans as they cheer or shake their heads in disappointment. Meanwhile, dpa’s writer is interviewing the coach and will write up the game’s highlights.
The night is short: In the morning customers will want an analysis for their readers with information about what the surprising victory means for Dortmund. The morning summary completed by 3:30 a.m. and ready for radio broadcasting when a Berlin colleague takes over.