TIPS FOR KEEPING THAT BIG PROJECT GOING - -
WITHOUT LOSING YOUR DAY JOB - OR YOUR MIND

LAURA FRANK

1. Getting ideas.

You probably have at least a few dozen good ideas for an investigative project each year. One or two ideas is all you need. To make sure you're not missing the most obvious ones, keep a pop-up file. Mark file folders 1-31, and Jan.-Dec. If the county sheriff says results from evidence tests are due back in three months, you'll remember to ask him what happened when he doesn't mention them and everyone else has forgotten them. It also will help you keep on top of your daily beat.

2. Research.

Cover a lot of ground early. I like to make a list of everyone who could possibly help me and start calling and visiting them. This is the time before you've narrowed your focus - and maybe before you've presented the idea to your editor. Now is when I'm looking for that punch-in-the-stomach fact that will sell the project.

3. Reporting.

With daily interruptions, keeping your train of thought may be your biggest challenge. Here are a few tricks I use:

4. Miscellaneous.

Here are some good sources of information:
The oldest person in your newsroom, the Encyclopedia of Associations, Chase's Calendar of Annual Events, your state blue book.