Since writing for The Ranger and the Northwest Airlifter (two local newspapers covering military news associated with Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state) starting last May, I’ve learned a lot about what our brave men and women do on a daily basis.
Prior to writing for the Northwest Military publications, I’ve had very little exposure to the inner-workings and the litany of acronyms associated with the Armed Forces, outside of reading the comic books series: G.I. Joe A Real American Hero.
So the learning curve has been steep for me. Coming from a non-military background, my access to the base is limited and also my finesse at cracking the code of public affairs officers has some room for improvement.
Recently, I reported on a story about the proposed plan to refurbish the existing runway at the Yakima Training Center in eastern Washington that would accommodate resuming landing and training exercises for the C-17 cargo plane.
It took all my might and all my perseverance to finally connect with the PAOs and get something adequate enough to fill a story.
My efforts produced a short, 250-word piece. Not quite the 600 words my editor originally assigned me, but he revised his original estimate and told me to get him as much as I can on the topic.
More often than not, writing a military piece can feel at times like “Mission Impossible.” But when I finally connect with the right sources, get solid information, and complete my story and to my editor on deadline, the payoff is very rewarding.