Ray Ring struck the right notes on many things Wednesday, but I hope you caught his smart explanation of the different levels of reporting. Most of what we've done so far qualifies as what he called "template" journalism -- you know, deadline reporting about incidents or events in which we scramble to get perspective on what the news means and whom it might affect. Write enough of these and it's easy to see the formula.
Breaking that mold means digging for truth among competing versions, finding the reality behind the rhetoric, exposing problems that aren't apprarent. That's analysis or interpretation, and if you're going to do it credibly -- with confidence and authority -- you have do a ton of reporting. The writing has to be better too, because in most cases you'll be telling stories, not merely summarizing the news and listing facts to support your lead. Now's the time to use what you've soaked up in all those lit classes about storytelling, about developing characters, setting the mood, and building tension. Such stories live and die on the telling details you find.