Most of My Nighttime Dreams, Alas, Are About Work

By Wesley G. Pippert

Most of my nighttime dreams, alas, are about work, generally as a young wire service reporter back in the Dakotas. I dreamed about returning to UPI’s now defunct Pierre bureau and vowing to reinstate daily rounds at the State Capitol. Or writing a snappy lead on a story and then discovering I had lost my notes. Or a writing South Dakota Supreme Court decision I didn’t understand. Or lots of variations.

But the big one was just last night. In the dream I was taking some university work and faced the chore of writing a thesis. I had chosen to write about “The Press” and had checked out two or three big books. I  just looked at them in despair at the thought of having to dig through them.

It hit me: I needed to narrow the topic. And just as quickly I came to the topic, “The relationship of reporters and their sources.” Like, what are the distinctions between background, deep background, and off-the-record? When the reporter and the source are close friends, especially if the story would hurt them? Or if the friend wants to unload a story the reporter knows is not a worthy one? I started thinking of personal examples to use.

Then I woke up.

Wes Pippert covered state capitals, Congress, and the White House. He spent nearly 30 years with United Press International, serving first in the Bismarck and Pierre capital bureaus in the Dakotas and then in Chicago before coming to Washington, D.C. in 1966. He covered three presidential campaigns, the Carter White House, was UPI’s principal on the Watergate story, and his final UPI assignment was as Middle East correspondent in Jerusalem. From 1989 to 2012, he directed the Missouri School of Journalism’s Washington Program.

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