Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From out of the blue

There is a woman I work with on a fairly regular basis...she is the executive director of a local non-profit organization that supports people infected with HIV/AIDS. I took the organization she works for on as a pet project about five years ago because no one else was doing it. I'm glad I did.

She is vivacious and well-spoken, passionate about the work she does and the people she helps and I admire her. She is an all-around amazing person and I'm closer to her than I probably should be, considering she is a source. She started out as a source, but over the past few years, she's become a friend.

Today I met with her for a story I'm researching and we ended up talking for more than two hours. We talk about social ills, problems with society and people in general. Yes, we even gossip about politicians and she has given me some very valuable tips.

She said something to me this afternoon that made my entire month.

Most people don't have a very high opinion of journalists. I know this and I'm okay with it. People make no secret of of how much they HATE reporters and you'd be surprised how many people think it's perfectly okay to just call up our newsroom and bitch out the first random reporter who answers the phone. Everything wrong in their lives, and in the world, suddenly becomes MY fault because I happened to be the unfortunate soul who picked up the phone. I've been blamed for some of the most incredible things, it amazes me what people think reporters are capable of doing just because they are reporters.

So anyway, reporters are generally on the same par as attorneys...people LOVE to absolutely hate us. We are vultures, blood suckers, scum of the earth...you name it, I've probably been called it or accused of it.

Anyway, today she told me I was the first reporter she's ever met who actually has a heart (take THAT you naysaying co-workers!), and that it's obvious I really care about people. (Crap, she's going to blow my hard-assed, heartless cover!) She deals with A LOT of media, including the crazy, egotistic tv people, so it's not like I'm the only reporter she's ever had to deal with.

She said she is always impressed how I come in and engage in conversation with her about real people, real things and address real issues instead of coming in armed with a list of pat questions and refusing to stray from my list. Sometimes I go in with one idea, and walk out with even better ones because I just like to talk.

That made me feel good. Reporters don't make much money. Most of us aren't in it for the awards or fame and after your first five years and your 2,000th boring-as-hell city council meeting, you give up hope that any story you write will change the world.

It's the little things we start clinging to, the little differences and changes we help make that keep us going every day. And today, she really made me feel like I was making in a difference in the lives of some people. Yes, small differences, nothing earth-shattering, but differences nonetheless.

And that's what it's all about.


goat roper said...

I've read many of your articles and your heart always shines through. One of my favorite people happens to be a reporter!

MP said...

Congratulations!! Awesome.
My cousin works for a company that sounds very much like her's..I could never do that. I don't think I would be able to take it..I commend them in their job..and I'm so happy you got that much needed/deserved praise!

nell said...

That's great! What a nice compliment. You're so right about those little things making a big difference.

Jim Thomsen said...

Now, if only you can do what you did with that one person ... and do it for people who appreciate you in terms of compensation and workplace goodwill, then you'll really have something.

As for me ... that's why I choose to be my own boss sooner than later. I can be an grateful, cheap bastard to me all I want. :)