Sometimes being a reporter is exciting, sometimes, really not so much
People often say to me, “Oh, you’re a reporter … That must be exciting.”
Yes, to some extent, it’s true, it’s true. But other tradeoffs, if you will, definitely take some of the luster off the job.
Even though we’re in small town America –and most daily news is like watching grass grow — I have a boatload of memories covering a variety of topics over 30 years plus.
They include train wrecks, goofy weather phenomena, a bridge collapse, gruesome murders, fugitives on the run, cop shooters, maniacs in court, lottery winners, recovery of war hero remains, white collar crime, government graft, a new mother giving birth after seven miscarriages, hostage situations and the terrorist attacks. I’ve put computer stroke to screen for boisterous union strikes, budget battles, thrilling political elections, and interviewed governors, U.S. senators and a former vice president.
Many things have faded from my memory. What lingers like a cancer is when people in authority tell me how to do my job or prevent me from doing it. They’re kinda full of themselves, I find.
I didn’t need that recently taking a photo at a Gloversville fire. A city police officer yelled at me for taking a photo well away from the smoky house. I had my press badge on too. He said I was getting too close, literally across the street. Heck, our main staff photographer got right on the porch.
There was another time I was threatened with arrest for merely taking photos at a 2013 plane crash in Ephratah. Something about not shooting at a federal crime scene. Of course it was all nonsense.
So in addition to covering lots of exciting stuff over the years, you have people who enjoy standing in the way of the story.
I once had a Fulton County sheriff’s investigator hang up on me because he said his job was “a helluva lot more important” than mine. Maybe that’s true, but the anger?
It’s not always cops.
One area school principal told me I couldn’t interview parents coming out of her school on school grounds. Geez. I guess if my kids were young again, and they went to that particular school, I would’ve been golden.
Other thankless endeavors have involved government officials telling me they weren’t going to give me public documents because they “didn’t feel like it.” That’s always mature. Some officials have told me to “just copy the other media” –another well-targeted insult.
A former local highly-placed economic development official once told me, with some obscene embelishments, he would “have [my] job” if I reported on a company he was trying to bring into the Johnstown Industrial Park. After my breaking story ran, he was sweet as pie anyway. Funny he was eventually separated from his job by his board.
But it all doesn’t really matter much because news reporters are among the most hated people in the world. And I know it comes with the territory. In some strange way, being treated like a punching bag makes me a more nervy and actually better reporter.
The Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press — found in 2016 that only 6 percent of Americans trust the media.
We did better in a 2016 Gallup poll, which found 32 percent have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.
∫ I think the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is on to something good for this summer with its planned Twilight Market on Friday nights in Gloversville. The CRG promises “delicious local food and artisan goods in a festive community atmosphere,” and I actually can’t wait. It may be the spark the city needs.
∫ I’m hoping what I’m seeing lately won’t become a habit for the Fulton County recycling crews. People like me buy a new shiny $40 single-stream recycling container, only to find it strewn, top and all, halfway across my yard. I’m noticing many neighborhood residents also have their new cans thrown about. Our container is already blacked, dented and scratched and we’ve only gone through two single-stream recycling periods.
∫ A certain, locally-declared candidate in Gloversville was spotted waxing political at the recent home show in Broadalbin. I think that’s great, as political discourse is how things get changed.
It’s a huge local election year in Fulton County. Let the silly season begin.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and does not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Leader-Herald of its editors.