News reporter Vincent Davis tells journalism students how to find stories

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Vincent Davis, general assignments reporter at the San Antonio Express-News and former student, explains to journalism-photography students how he constructs a story Nov. 15 in Loftin. “I learned here that you want to try and ask the questions that the reader can’t ask,” Davis said. “When you’re there, what do they need to know, but also try and put them there to give them a sense of place.” Geoffrey Hovatter

Skills learned at the Ranger are the foundation for the professional setting, Davis said.

By Andrea Herrera

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Vincent Davis, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, said having empathy and a sense of humanity are important qualities to find stories.

He spoke to about 25 students and faculty members Nov. 15 in Room 209 of Loftin Student Center.

Davis served in the U.S Air Force for 22 years.

Originally, he wanted to become a graphic designer.

 He thought he would be drawing graphic novels, but one day, as he was heading to his car after class, he saw an index card on a bulletin board seeking an editorial cartoonist at The Ranger.

“So, I looked at it, and I took the number down. I called my wife and said, ‘Should I do this?’ She said ‘yeah, what’s the harm, what could happen? What is the worst that could happen?’” Davis recalled.

Davis started working at The Ranger as an illustrator, eventually becoming a reporter.

Davis moved on to work at the San Antonio Express-News in 1999 as a part-time city desk editorial assistant and freelance writer while he completed his degree at Texas State University-San Marcos.

Eventually, he was moved onto the police beat

Later, Davis and a photographer would go out and not come back to the newsroom until they had found a story. Sometimes it took them 15 minutes, sometimes five hours.

There was no direction as to what the stories could be about; the goal was to have an open mind to find something that could make a story.

“There’s nothing that says you can’t have a story of humanity,” he said.

He’s written stories about people’s lives in the community. For example, he interviewed people who lived on a street called Jesus Alley, asking what that meant to them.

He has found little stories depicting family traditions like a father and daughter fishing in the casting pond of Woodlawn Lake, and a woman who was remembered as the prayer warrior because she prayed at crime scenes on the East Side.

He said readers appreciate these kinds of stories because they differ from the everyday hard news on crime, politics and death.

They bring some type of comfort to the audience, he said.

He said he has received several emails from readers thanking him for his work.

“The beauty of what we do is we can catch it in real time,” he said.

“Whoever it is that you are, bring that with you,” he said.

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