I need your opinion.

I’m pretty sure nobody is reading this (yet), but I’m going to throw this out there anyway.

I’m considering submitting one of my features from my last year of school to the SPJ Awards.  I think there is prize money involved.  At the very least, there is some sort of convention in Vegas where I will shake a lot of hands.

I have two features I think I did a pretty darn good job on, and that I think would give me a good shot at winning something.

The first is “Invasion of the Cadets”, from the May/June 2009 issue, and it can be read here.  ‘Cadets’ was a project that started in late January and is still going on.  I got the idea when I decided to swing by a Phenomenauts show at Slim’s a few days before school started, and a man in a helmet gave me a flyer about the upcoming Phenomenaut fan convention at Disneyland.  I had always known their fans were pretty gung-ho, but I didn’t know they were motivated enough to meet up for a day at a theme park nine hours away from the band’s home base in Oakland.  I got in contact with some people from their street team/fan club/whatever and the more people I talked to, the more complex the story became.  The version that ran in [X]Press barely scratched the surface.  There is a much bigger story here than just ‘here are some goofy people that like to dress up in costume and sing songs about space’.   There is so much psychology to the band and to the Cadet movement itself.  I am dying to write a longer version of it.  I still take notes every time I go see them.

Also, keep in mind that I will be sending in PDFs of the pages in the actual magazine, not links to our snoozer of a site.  The art on the ‘Cadets’ looks pretty cool.

My other option is “Return of the Bellows”.  This one is about the accordion beginning to surface in independent music.  It can be read here.

My gut reaction is to turn in ‘Bellows’.  I had a lot of fun writing ‘Cadets’, but often times I feel like the story is only interesting to me and people who already know about the band.  ‘Bellows’ has a broader appeal, and I feel like the writing is much better.  I know I’m never going to be able to write a better lede than ‘Aaron Seeman still smells like propane’.   However, I was also told by a lot of my sources that the story was kind of old news, and a whole bunch of journalists had come sniffin’ around lately to write about it.

I’ve never worked on a story as hard as I worked on ‘Cadets’. I’ve never done that much reporting.  In the same word count as ‘Bellows’, I was able to squeeze in six sources, whereas Bellows only had three; two and a half at best.  The writing in ‘Cadets’, for the sake of efficiency, is very newsy, but the story, I feel, is inherently more colorful.  The characters are much clearer, and the details are very telling.  For a contest called ‘Mark of Excellence’ awards, I want to make sure I show that not only can I write, I can report.

I’m too close to both of these stories, so I’m leaving it up to you. I’ll leave this up for a week or two and ask some human beings before I make my decision.

Also, feel free to leave comments! Talk to me. This blog is pretty lonely right now.

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