Once, I was young, a college student, and thus fearless. As an intern at the Bismarck Tribune three consecutive summers (the management there deserves some sort of special award) I reached a comfort level, which in retrospect I imagine many of us regret. Nevertheless, one day the assignment came to write an article about the economic impact of a major softball tournament held every summer. The real reporters chatted with me about this for a few minutes, and then I tapped out the first thing that popped into my head, a lead paragraph along the lines of "... scribble, scribble, carry the three. Holy smokes Batman, that's a lot of economic impact." I believe that lead ran in the newspaper.
I resurrect this little story now because I am again struggling, though one hopes more thoughtfully, with how to write about economic impact, thanks to the great news that Alien Technology selected NDSU's Research and Technology Park to build a major high tech manufacturing plant.
New jobs in North Dakota makes a good headline. But as a storyteller, the question is how to go further, to convey meaning, to get to the essence.
I believe the words when I write them: NDSU is at the center of partnerships that are succeeding in bringing industry, research and money to North Dakota and that means better education for our students and more opportunity for our citizens. But the little nag in my head scolds me for using the word "opportunity." It's just a tish overused, she says. Surely you can come up with a stronger word, something with more meaning.
Then, one day, after all these years, I saw it. It's a look in a student's eyes as she recognizes an opportunity. All of a sudden, I can think of no better word. She took a big bite at the offer to write an essay for this magazine, a big deal at this point in her career.
That's it, hundreds of times over.
Thank you for reading.