Whether you realize it or not, being a journalist has its ups and its downs.
With that in mind, I would like to offer some insight into what it’s like to be a journalist, especially at a community newspaper.
I have spent the majority of the 20-plus years I’ve been in this business in small newspapers. Reporting on local people and events is the backbone and heart of community journalism and for me, it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
There was a time, way back when I was a sports writer, the desire to work at a large paper was burning inside. But, as I began to open my eyes and see the great value of local people and local events, it became apparent community journalism was where I belonged.
With every 500 good moments comes at least two or three not-so-hot moments. There are times when people call you up and complain about the story you have written. Many times they think just because you wrote something they didn’t approve of personally, I had it out for them.
Getting a phone call about someone’s relative who did something they shouldn’t have, then got caught, is not personal nor is it meant to be demeaning to the family. Sometimes that’s just the way things fall.
When you are at a tragic scene such as a fatal car crash or a fire where someone has lost their life, you still have to take pictures and still have to report the pertinent facts.
Often when people see the local newspaper guy taking pictures they come to the conclusion he’s just there because it sells papers.
Well, that partly is correct. People in the community want to know what is happening around them. They want to know when their neighbors are struggling and when they are celebrating.
While this may seem aloof, it’s really not, it’s more of being aware of your surroundings and what should be included.
Often we hear someone remark about how the reporter should leave them alone in their time of crisis, then be the first one to come to the person in question’s aid.
This raises an important question, if you didn’t read about it, how would you have found out about it?
Communities are bound together by many threads, some warm and friendly and caring, and some sharp and biting. They are also drawn together by heart, soul, eyes and ears. While the newspaper and the reporters cannot always be the heart or soul, we can be the eyes and ears of the communities we serve.
That’s our job, despite what you might think, it’s what we do for a living.
All I ask is you remember this the next time you see me or my colleagues out taking pictures somewhere and instead of accusing us of being overzealous, take into consideration what you might learn from the story.
Rick Curl is reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at (910)230-2037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.