Working with Tony Mena, profiling and PTSD

This was my first group project for Convergence Reporting this semester, and my favorite, not just in terms of final product but in the overall reporting experience.

MU student, poet and Iraq war veteran Tony Mena

Maggie and I worked very closely with Jim MacMillan to learn about reporting on post-traumatic stress disorder. It was a lucky stroke that Jim has the background he does as we came into this story. He guided us through the script with the amount of knowledge we could only have gotten from someone with a specialized background, and consulted us well pre-interview.

Relistening to the story, I’m surprised elements of it worked as well as they did – particularly the sidebar, which I’d worried would sound muddled and confusing (Tony’s voice commenting on Tony’s poem with only some light changes in nat. sound to indicate the transitions?) As the first substantial piece of non-text reporting I’ve ever done, it helped that it was a kind of reporting I’m used to (a profile.) This was also my first experience working with an NPR format, which I loved. I enjoy writing stories with an NPR tone, and I’ve enjoyed learning (especially over the course of the semester) what kind of subject matter is marketable to KBIA audiences. The success of this piece has encouraged me to turn my work a little more in that direction – I hadn’t decided to work on an independent study with KBIA at this point, but my experience on Mena’s story was a big factor in my decision later in the summer.

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