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Boys State participants in the Journalism School.

Again this year the professional journalists who volunteer to run the Journalism School at the American Legion Boys State of Missouri asked me if I would talk to Boys States citizens in the school about blogging. This afternoon I spoke for about a half hour to the approximately 200 students. They asked a slew of very interesting and thoughtful questions.

I told them my list of lessons learned – similar to last year’s, but modified somewhat due to experience:

Show Me Progress – lessons learned while covering politics

1. All you have is your reputation and credibility.

2. Change or recharge your batteries before every event.

3. Be self reliant. Have a “Plan B” – a pencil and notepad.

4. Never pass up an opportunity to eat or use the rest room. You never know how long it’ll be until your next opportunity.

5. If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t true. Confirm, confirm, confirm. Use primary sources.

6. Experience will teach you many lessons. Pay attention to them.

7. You can’t waste film with a digital camera. Keep shooting.

8. People will usually talk to you if you ask them. Remember, they can say “No.”

9. You may not have been born as a beast of burden, but if you cover political events, you’re gonna feel like one. Choose your equipment to get the job with the former in mind.

10. Turn off your cell phone.

11. Half the battle is in actually showing up. Actually, good chunk of the battle is in showing up early. Location, location, location. Scout the terrain.

12. Do your homework. Research.

13. Everyone needs to be clear that you’re with the media, otherwise they can claim it was all off the record. Identify yourself.

A professional talks about print advertising and market demographics.