It’s all fun and games...until you become a member of the media, that is.
This column is an informative piece about the transition from being a member of society to being a member of the media--a transition that was a bit bigger than I had anticipated.
When I started writing for the Journal Record in November 2017, I was mainly excited to get to write for a living. I love creating; I love writing; I love using my brain at work (except when at the end of a busy week, my brain feels like mashed potatoes).
I think I had envisioned that this whole journalism thing would be more like creative writing and that this occupation would give me the opportunity to speak on important issues, champion causes and feature people who have lived incredible lives.
Truthfully, until I joined the newspaper staff, I had never thought even once about what a school board does. I knew there was a mayor, but I thought his job was basically to kiss babies and cut ribbons. There was so much going on in our community that I was totally unaware of.
Reporting for the Journal Record has helped me become much better acquainted with our community--the faces, the people and how it works.
But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a downside. I remember the first moment someone was upset with me for putting what they said in the paper. Mind you, this wasn’t a statement made in confidence, it was actually made in a public meeting. And although they chose to say it, they were not pleased that I chose to write it.
Or when I (or our other writers) report on an issue and our stance is totally different than a reader’s--we get phone calls. They don’t appreciate what you said about their darling grandson that was arrested on felony charges. They don’t appreciate your position on property taxes or council decisions. They don’t appreciate that you did not abide by their requests not to publish what they said at a public meeting--in public. They don’t appreciate that another club, team, school, board or cause got more coverage than theirs.
The list could really go on and on. Something I’ve realized is that, in this job, there’s really not even a day that someone is not unhappy with something I’ve written...or not written.
Now, I know in life, you simply can’t please everyone. But since becoming a member of the media, it seems compounded.
One of my fellow writers said that he was working on a piece once that caused some discord in a few of his professional relationships. Because he and someone he was connected with were on different sides of an issue, suddenly there was some awkward tension between them.
Just to put it in relatable terms for the non-media personnel, it’s like talking about politics at a holiday dinner--if Hilary Clinton was your aunt on one side and your uncle on the other was the leader of the National Rifle Association. Oh, the tension.
Scott Johnson, news editor for the Journal Record, pointed out that we’re not nameless, faceless journalists. We live in this community, too.
Contrary to some opinions, we care what goes on here. We support our community.
It pains me to have to report negative things about our community. It’s not fun to be a whistle-blower. It’s hard to point out when an elected official, a public servant or a board does something questionable. It’s hard quoting someone who said something inappropriate in a public meeting. But we are here to be the eyes and ears of the public and giving a candid view of things, whether they’re good or bad, that’s our job.
We can’t necessarily fix the tension that those responsibilities create sometimes, but I wanted to share what it’s like from the other side of the pen.
See complete story in the Journal Record.