Is there such a thing as getting too much information from a source?

This past week I’ve been reporting and writing a couple of stories on subjects that I previously knew nothing about – composting latrines and maple syrup production. Because I knew very little about those subjects when I started reporting I asked my sources a lot of questions about how everything worked so that I could make sure I was writing accurately. What ended up happening was that I got so bogged down with that information that I wrote stories that were mostly about the process, which wasn’t the most interesting or engaging part. My editor worked with me to cut down the amount of information on the process and focus on what was actually interesting to the reader.

After making those edits to my stories I began to think about how I had gone about my reporting. I believe I asked so many questions and was so overloaded with information that it had a negative impact on my writing. But how do you know when to stop? At what point do you look at what you’ve got and say “This is all I need?” One of my teachers once told me that a good journalist never feels like their story is perfect. I’m starting to realize that I may be a journalist that never feels like they’ve done enough reporting, even when I actually have all the information I need to write a good story.

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