When I started my journey at The Leader almost a year ago, I was so excited to be doing something so big, to be a spoke in one of the wheels that turn this county.
I was to be in charge of covering education, community and the town of Brighton. That meant that I would be meeting many of the movers and shakers, working with our youth to do write ups on robotics programs, school newspapers and compiling honor roll lists. How excited I was!
I would meet with local business owners and talk with them about how they got where they are, promoting their products and services.
I can tell you that it felt good to give those people a slice of fame in our hometown community paper.
It still feels good.
In fact, it’s the greatest part of doing this job.
But I am not a reporter. A reporter must have thick skin to survive in this business, and I do not have thick skin.
I much prefer the “feel-good” stories of our community. But the readers told us that, even though they want the feel good stories, they really want the bad news more.
I recently did an article on the Alternative Learning Center and a new program they have implemented called Odysseyware.
Because of this software, the school immediately witnessed a rise in student success rates, graduating nine seniors who may have flunked out otherwise.
I thought this was great news! Here are these kids—whose circumstances we know nothing about—making good on their second chances. I thought you might think it was great news, too.
And then I read this on our Facebook thread of the story: “So, if they can tie their shoes and not rob a store, they graduate now?”
First of all, the children in ALC are not robbers. Many of them don’t even have a criminal record. These are foster children, children with truancy issues (we cannot speculate on whose fault it is that they aren’t getting to class) and children with some behavioral issues in the traditional classroom. Again, we cannot know the cause.
It’s tough to read comments like that and not be bothered; to not rush to their defense. But we must always appear objective, regardless of how we really feel.
It’s also tough to watch my editor get slammed for simply reporting to you, the people, what’s going on in your neighborhoods; all that bad news you really prefer. What’s that old saying, “Don’t kill the messenger?’
Her skin must be tough as leather after 10 years in this field.
I am learning, though, to toughen up. I know that I must if I’m to be taken seriously, but, I am not objective.
None of us are. We are simply the messengers. It is our responsibility to inform, whether we like the story or not.