I walked into Charlotte City Hall (which doubles as the police station), expecting a table encircled by suit-clad bigwigs.
A long hallway later, though, I walked into a cubicle-like space complete with mismatched chairs, a noisy (and I suspect, antique) air conditioning unit and the council — all clad in loungewear.
Rural government, I quickly discovered, is neither glamorous nor formal, and covering it requires a high level of follow-up questioning.
In covering two council meetings and a school board meeting for The Observer, I’ve learned the power of follow-up questioning and consequently, poise.
Rural council members refer to residents by first name or nickname only, so motions go something like this: “Motion to demolish Old Man Johnson’s house on that gravel road west of town.”
I felt like an interrogator asking question upon question about Old Man Johnson and the home.
Albeit confusing at moments, rural government has also taught me the value of poise. A solid question won’t receive a solid response until I show a potential source I’m invested in what he or she knows.
On the whole, moving to DeWitt has helped me hone my follow-up questioning and source-hunting skills.
I know whom to contact (and not to contact) for information at Drake, and potential sources likewise know I’m Times-Delphic editor-in-chief. Source-hunting has grown routine.
However, moving to a new town has honed my source-hunting skills. I exchanged, “Hello. It’s Taylor, again,” for, “Hello, I’m Taylor. It’s nice to meet you,” in my quest for information.
Now more than ever, I feel at ease approaching people I’ve never met and confidently asking questions.