Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Writing stuff

Whether I liked it or not, before I retired (It was an early-out window, dammit!) I occasionally had to deal with reporters.

Most of the time it was only in passing, because they were really only waiting to speak to somone impawtant, and the reporter thought the act of sticking a microphone in somebody's face (mine) would be so overwhelming, it would result in that someone (me) saying something so stupid, they could make something (hopefully higher ratings) of it later.

A few times, though, Da Boss (or his boss, or that boss's boss) pointed the reporter to me for background information (primarily numbers) on whatever story they were covering . . .

(Except for that one time when the oatmeal hit the proverbial fan and I became the official "Media Decoy." Without detail: rather than have the media land without warning to catch the raw emotion of people who'd been affected, the reporters were aimed at me while our social workers tried to track down family members and let them know, in privacy, what had occurred. My assignment was to stall for time by being very helpful while at the same time, not providing one bit of concrete or quotable information. For three days . . . but, I digress.)

There were and are three types of reporters:

  1. "Joe Friday": Just the facts, ma'am.
  2. Bimbo: Facts? That's the little thingie that beeps and then paper comes out, right?
  3. Crusader Rabbit: Facts? Who needs 'em. I'm here to change the world!

I always preferred the Joe Fridays and still do. I always will. But facts aren't only cold numbers and dates, and the best remember that there are real people involved in the articles they're writing.

For some reason today, I don't know why, I thought of a reporter I'd dealt with years ago. I didn't even know if he was still alive, but what the heck. I hit Google.

I'd liked his "Joe Friday." He'd go the extra mile time and again to portray a full and accurate picture. I also liked the way he dealt with people, particularly those he interviewed on his butt-ugly beat. He treated them like people: with respect, honesty and honest compassion. He quoted accurately and fairly, and if something was said off the record, it stayed there.

Turns out he's still kicking. In fact, in addition to still reporting regularly for his paper he's now, YEARS later, one of the directors at DART, an international resource for journalists covering all forms of violence. That includes the tsunamis.

Check it out.

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