8 Things Reporters Want You to Know

8 Things Reporters Want You to Know pic

  1. “On vs. Off the Record”

I have been asked many times outside my work hours what “on the record” means and when I’m allowed to wield that power. In a nutshell, the minute I acknowledge I’m a reporter, what my affiliation is, and start asking questions (which you then answer), I can use anything you say unless you first say “This is off the record” before our conversation continues. This can’t be brandished after the fact though…only BEFORE. I understand why this can be upsetting…if you say something that’s not articulated very well or spoke with the correct grammar, well, that’s what I’ve been dealt. But the reason for the rule is this – imagine if I conducted a thorough interview only to be met with “Oh by the way, you can’t use any of that.” It would be a complete waste of both our times, would it not?

  1. “No Comment”

More often than not, I feel giving no comment is worse than giving a comment that may or may not be well received when it comes to a troubling issue. The “no comment” or “this person referred to an official statement” can make it seem that the subject has something to hide, or is at the very least choosing to be distant with the public. So when it comes to speaking up or not speaking at all, just imagine what the end result will look like on paper.

  1. “Can You Fix It?”

Where journalism and public relations deviate lies in each’s objective. The goal of public relations professionals is to promote their clients whereas journalists simply report what is – the good, the bad and the ugly (which I always thought was a weird phrase because “bad” and “ugly” are synonymous). I’ve been told “You should write about _________ like this…” or have had it implied that my job is to be a Fix-It Felix when in actuality, my job is to report what is happening now, not what should or shouldn’t be. I do have my own opinions on these matters but I do my best to keep them from slipping into my writing. Can I fix your problems? Maybe. But not when I’m on the clock.

  1. “If You Through Read the Materials…”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I don’t have time to become a bona fide expert on pharmaceuticals, quilting or medieval French poetry. DO NOT give me 50+ pages’ worth of information in lieu of speaking with me or feel that it’s okay to be offended when I ask a “dumb” question because I may not be as well versed on the subject matter. You’re the expert and that is why I want to talk to you. Rewriting textbook info in my stories just doesn’t have the same human touch to it.

  1. “Can I Call You Back in a Few Days?”

Not really. I crank out a story a day and you’ll probably forget about me in the next hour. Not to sound like a hormonal teenage girl attached to her cell phone, but PLEASEEEEEE call me back…soon.

  1. “So What’s Your Name Again?”

And like a hormonal college frat boy at a bar, I will probably struggle with remembering names. I’ve only just started and I already have a contact list going up the wazoo. Plus I’m terrible at remembering names in my personal life. Please don’t be hurt if I forget your name…but I do remember what you do and what your story is!

  1. “How did you find me?/How did you know that?”

In the words of Barney Stinson – please. Your social media settings probably aren’t as secure as you think they are – plus I’ve gotten ahold of sources that don’t even have much of a digital footprint. There’s always someone who knows someone who knows someone. And unless you’re Amish and shun modern inventions, I shall find you – or someone else who can. 🙂

  1. “Want Coffee?”

Um. Not even a question. I did say I was a reporter, right? Substitute it with wine after 5:00, though.

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#YestoBasicHumanity

#yesallwomen6I’m stealing this from a friend’s recent social media post:

“#YesAllWomen because ‘I have a boyfriend’ is the easiest way to get a man to leave you alone – because he respects another man more than you.”

I do not have a boyfriend and maybe there’s a good reason for that, but I can attest to the validity of this statement. To think that that’s the only reason one may be left in peace is truly disheartening.

Things like women-in-the-kitchen jokes, frat boy trash talk about how many virginal conquests they’ve made and the archaic notion that women’s primary objective in life is motherhood all make me wonder how much society’s progressed in the last 100 years.

Scratch that, I know we’ve made strides; i.e. women in this country at least have the right to vote, own land, get an education, divorce, use birth control, wear skirts that show skin above the ankle, etc., but there’s a ways to go still.

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There are so many parts to this feminism-ish tirade I’m about to embark on, but for the sake of word count I’ll keep it to the sexual mistreatment of women.

It would be ignorant of me to disregard the struggles men face in this area, because although it may not necessarily be as common, men too are taken advantage of in this way. And I sympathize with you. However, I cannot speak for men nor pretend to fully understand the struggles the male sex must deal with.

It saddens me so that my mother has to worry if I want to go out with my female friends on the occasional evening. Or that my gender must be wary of inadvertently inciting temptation from our male counterparts (because no one bothered to think that MAYBE the problem lies with certain men’s inability to keep their temptation/hormones in check. Not that women shouldn’t disregard this entirely though, since respect is a two-way street). Or that I can’t go out for a brisk night walk lest I become another statistic in the major crimes bureau.

Sometimes I base what I wear on how fast I think I might need to be able to run should an incident arise on one of those night walks. And not the zombie apocalypse kind of incident. As much as I’d like to wear my sky-high heels sitting in the back of my closet once in a blue moon, I often fear that will warrant more wolf-whistles than self-confidence, so I’ll opt for something more practical instead.

But what right does someone’s clothes give you to treat somebody like an object?

I never understood why “Well, what was she wearing?” or “What did she drink?” seem to be a valid question when looking into an assault or rape. I refuse to believe that a girl who wears jeans “deserves” better treatment than one who chooses something less constraining and likewise shudder to think a girl may be targeted based on the contents in her glass (BTW, it’s just as easy for someone to slip something in your coffee as it is with anything else).

Also, sidenote: contrary to what some may believe, rape can happen in marriages. Don’t believe me? Let me redirect you to TIME Magazine: http://time.com/3976180/marital-rape/

I’m not sure what having sexual conquest over another person does for the initiator, either. Oh wow, you committed a major crime against someone who desires you in no way whatsoever? The only thing you’ve gained, I pray, is a court order to register as a sex offender for you are, in fact, an offense to your sex.

#yesallwomen4I will admit that yes unfortunately if you are drunk or wear a short skirt the likelihood of these things happening is higher. Unfortunately. But if you honestly believe that someone else’s choices somehow add justification to you subjecting another human to your will, you are sick and I hope I have the pleasure of never having your acquaintance.

I wish I could say something empowering like, “Where the higher skirt (depending if the length allows you proper mobility)!” or “Life is meant to be lived on the edge!”

But I have some reservations in doing so. Like the extra-cautious parents who worry about other drivers on the road versus you as a driver yourself, I worry not about your individual choices as women but the choices of those saturated by a patriarchal society.

#yesallwomen5