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Ideas, like snowflakes, must multiply to be effective

I have a confession, though I admit it won’t surprise too many people.

Life is not like television shows, even those based in reality. Nothing can ever been wrapped up in a nice neat package in 30 minutes, one hour or even two hours.

While not a new realization, this concept really hit home the past few weeks as I spent an extraordinary amount of time planted on the couch catching up on programs and movies I had recorded as I tried to fight some type of upper respiratory bug.

No matter what I watched, the problems/complications/love story seemed to be solved by the program’s end.

I’ve yet to encounter any issue that simple. Usually the matters I deal with take days, weeks or months to resolve. And sometimes I never find a solution or way handle the situation.

This is especially true when it comes to work.

In the news business that means we have extra tidbits of information from interviews we’ve done, meetings we’ve attended or things we’ve researched. The information is interesting but just doesn’t fit into the story we are working on or couldn’t be developed into a full story.

Such was the case this week when I sent an inquiry over the Nevada Department of Transportation about a spot on U.S. Highway 93 where several semitrucks have tipped over in the past few days. The response was there have not been “any complaints, calls or concerns about that section of U.S. Highway 93 being especially hazardous or susceptible to crashes. And there have not been any recent changes in the road geometry.”

Interesting? Yes. Useful? Yes. Newsworthy? Not as much.

The reality is it could just be coincidence that the drivers of these trucks had accidents in approximately the same location within days of each other.

Chasing tips and story suggestions from our readers often falls into the same category of interesting and useful but not newsworthy or meaty enough to create a complete article. So if a story doesn’t materialize immediately from a suggestion sent in, that doesn’t mean we are ignoring anyone.

For the majority of my career, I’ve been a firm believer in the credo that I would rather have too much information than not enough. That generally works, but every now and then I encounter something — an idea, issue or fact — that gnaws at me.

Like that nagging tickle at the back of my throat that just won’t go away, these unused pieces of information collect until I can find a way to use them.

I like to think of them as snowflakes. Individually, they are beautiful and inspiring. But a single snowflake isn’t enough to close roads, entice skiers to the slopes or form into snowballs or snowmen. When they gather in multitudes, however, that’s when things start to happen.

Until that time, bits of stories sit on my desk, in my computer and percolate in my head, waiting for the snowstorm to arrive.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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