These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

reporter's lament

today i got a letter from someone who i dont' know but only met in a meeting i covered last week. the letter was unflattering, saying i got facts incorrectly in the article i subsequently wrote about afterwards.

well, i was sort of bummed when i read it. but then i thought, "no, you dont' have to feel that way. you did what you had to." because i didn't write an article a certain way or to someone's dislike, doesn't mean it was lacking with facts.

i don't think people realize that it's a tough job being a reporter and having to cover a variety of different topics every day. while the job is the same -- writing articles -- the subject matter is always changing. for me, it changes every night. i am a general assignemtn reporter and go wherever i'm told. i have no stable beat and have to constantly adapt to where i am going and what meeting i'm attending, having to know who people are and try to crunch into my brain as much of the details as i can prior to the meeting, usually with very little prep time.

on top of covering different topics daily, in my case, as it is witih many reporters, their soul or heart, or whatever, is beared and exposed for everyone to see, scrutinize and pick over. most times, a person's skills or product is not seen by the general public. well, reporters don't have that luxury. it's all laid out on the page for people to look at.

and most times,reporters don't get a clap on the back for a good job (although a school story i wrote recently did and i was happy for it). it's only when things go wrong or someone differs with the path the article took that the calls and letters come in and the only time reporters hear from events or meetings covered.

we're human and we make mistakes like everyone else. except our errors are very visible. it doesn't happen often that 20,000 people can see a mistake someone did at their job.

but that's when a thick skin helps out and you shrug and move on and only hope the people who don't understand will one day. while these people are invested in the issue, because it's personal, we must be detached and write to the best of our ability.


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