We were joking in the newsroom yesterday that after 30 years in the business one would tend to be insensitive.
And I said, "Hell, after four years in the business I'm insensitive", which really isn't entirely true. I'm a pretty sensitive individual.
When I'm not sensitive, however, is when I'm pursuing an investigative story and I want answers. Then I mix sensitivity with a little bit of reporter-aggression.
I'm also not sensitive when I'm pursuing a non-investigative story about - oh- Christmas lights and I get a virtual "no comment." Fine. I guess somebody's not in the Christmas spirit.
Or I call a new restaurant to talk to the manager and I get a rude "She's busy. You'll have to call back early in the morning."
I didn't even say goodbye. I sneered and replied, "Okay then..." And I made a mental note to not ever write a story about the new restaurant.
(free publicity, people. you don't say no!)
I am sensitive when I'm covering a science fair and interviewing kids who are waayyyy smarter then me. To give you a clue on how smart some of these little guys were - I was reading them back their quotes to make sure I notated them correctly. I don't ever do that.
And it warmed my sensitive soul when I saw this story cut out and framed all pretty-like in the entrance of the science fair.
That helps make it worth dealing with silly people who turn down free advertising and treat me like I'm after a Watergate scandal scoop. It's Christmas lights and restaurants, people. In the grand scheme of things, not really all that important.
Maybe the bigger issue is that, as a reporter, I don't like being told no. As much as it bugs me when people refuse to talk to me, it makes me feel so damn good when people drop me little lines to thank me for a story or let me know how it impacted them.
Yeah, I might ask you a bunch of questions and you might not understand some of them but I promise you that when I sit down to write your story, it will have a piece of my creative heart in it. Even the one about Christmas lights.