“I been in this game for years, it made me an animal. There’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual.
A step-by-step booklet for you to get your game on track.”–Christopher George Latore Wallace, street reporter
Chief among those, of course, is to never get high on your own supply. The moment you start thinking you’re close to legit because you know how words go together and can get information from a handful of important people, someone breaks a story that the Ombudsman has charged Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with graft and your frantic calls to contacts will go unanswered while you watch the story develop before your eyes. (It could happen.)
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? In The Wire, gang boss Avon Barksdale says you only need to fuck up once. Be a little slow, be a little late just once. Truth be told, I have been more than a little slow, more than a little late, and not just once. Barksdale again: “And how you ain’t gonna be never slow, or late? You can’t plan for anything like this, man. It’s life.”
What you can do is break out in a cold sweat and, eventually, end up in a taxi rushing to the Office of the Ombudsman for confirmation the next day, arriving just as it starts and all within 15 minutes of a colleague calling to tell you about it. Or you could wait for other people to write the story and then copy-paste it.
Which still does not take away the fact that you were scooped and that happened because you didn’t know your beat, a fact that you can take as a sign to get out of the game. On the other hand, you can take the hit, admit there are a lot of people better than you, and, as another street reporter said: get that dirt off your shoulder. Switch up your flow and brush your shoulders off.