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Just saying… we are doing our job

The media these days is often talked about in the same breath as lawyers, politicians and car salesmen. Whether itís the evening news anchor or a newspaper reporter, the perception is too often negative. While we are not a big city newspaper, we do operate under the same standards.We follow the Associated Press style, and we interview people with the same goal as any media outlet. Our purpose is to gather information, as best as we can, to educate our readers about issues that affect people in general ñ issues that people are curious about. And when those issues are brought to the publicís attention, we have a responsibility to address them.The interview is usually the cause of someoneís contempt for the media. Most reporters have experienced the inevitable, ìI didnít say that.î We are trained as listeners, and often we record conversations; and we always take notes. However, the person we are interviewing does not routinely take notes.A good reporter/listener can get people to talk. It is no surprise to any reporter that a person interviewed can become angry and in denial when he or she doesnít like seeing certain words from the interview in print, despite the accuracy of the article. Itís human nature to talk, and itís human nature to blame the reporter, if the words in print are adversely perceived by others. Itís human nature to think the reporter has gotten it all wrong. Most likely, the interviewee didnít realize how his or her words would look in print ñ very few people think about that.Because we address a negative issue, some people assume we no longer support the organization or its cause. Take the Falcon Fire Protection District. Yes, the August article, ìShake-up at FFPD,î wasnít exactly a positive slant on the FFPD, but by no means does that indicate we are no longer supportive of our firefighters. There were hints that we might have sabotaged the reputation of the fire department, especially after all of its efforts in battling the Black Forest fire. Just to be clear: We will not ignore a troubled situation in any organization because the members/personnel have done a superb job at what theyíre supposed to be doing.Also, there is always a focus to any article, and when another issue is brought up in an interview, we might include it in a quote, but we donít have an obligation to pursue it if itís off the main topic.Finally, the best idea is to be open and honest when dealing with the media ñ and get back to the reporters. Itís never in the best interest of an organization when the following is printed below the article: John Doe did not respond to our numerous phone calls. Some readers remember those things when itís time to vote!

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