From the Editor by David Staats: A reporter takes on sugar beets

dstaats@idahostatesman.comJuly 16, 2013 

Staats, David

David Staats

SHAWN RAECKE — Shawn Raecke/ Idaho Statesman Buy Photo

Business reporter Zach Kyle wrote the main stories for this week's agriculture edition. His pieces on sugar-beet farming and small farms ventured into topics he hadn't written about before. That made him both happy and nervous.

Kyle joined the Statesman's business team in April after six years as a reporter for the Post-Register in Idaho Falls. His beats are housing, banking and the impact of government on business. But the job is wide-ranging enough to throw him into all kinds of business stories.

Kyle enjoyed tramping around Notus farmer Mike Skogsberg's sugar-beet field and learning about the challenges facing local growers and their sole customer, Amalgamated Sugar Co. "We could be on the precipice looking over the edge to the potential decline of an important industry," he says. On the other hand, as Skogsberg told him, experts have forecast the end of sugar-beet farming before. "It could be same old, same old," Kyle says.

Writing accurately and meaningfully on a subject you've never covered challenges any reporter. How can you master the subject, tell a story that's interesting and new, and get all its details right in limited time?

"When you work hard to figure something out, it just makes you realize how much you don't understand yet," Kyle says. "It's a nerve-wracking place to be as a reporter."

To get through it, "You make a lot of calls and talk to smart people."

I think his efforts succeeded. Let me know what you think. See a video of Kyle talking about beets here.

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dstaats@idahostatesman.com, @IDS_DavidStaats

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