Press Talk: Reporters work hard for you

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

It’s a tough life, being a reporter. Working strange hours, weekends. Pushed by the bosses. Pushed by the readers. Pushed by the sources.

And it’s not like they’re getting rich through it all. I was looking at a story showing the jobs that required the most education but received the least pay.

Teachers, by the way, were not on the list.

Recreational therapists, biological technicians, mental health and substance abuse social workers, museum technicians and conservators, survey researchers. They all made the list. But who was at the bottom of the low heap?

Reporters and correspondents.

None of us got into it for the money. Yet we’re all pretty bright and highly educated. It’s difficult to find a reporter today who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree.

So why did we sign up? We all, likely, have our reasons. I grew up in the Watergate era and that triggered my hope to make this crazy world a better place by reporting.

Fresh out of college, I came in with a salary below the poverty line but, hey, I figured if you lived it, you would have a better feel for those who were living it as well.

It’s an old journalism saying: Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

Along with doing good we also knew we’d take heat from those who don’t like us. But knowing we’d take some grief for the work we do never makes it easier.

A few days ago I read a story where a Detroit Free Press columnist took a ration from Kid Rock.

Apparently Mr. Rock (what exactly do you call him?) has a clothing line and part of that clothing line has a “Made in Detroit” logo on it.

Problem is, as the Free Press columnist reported, the “Made in Detroit” shirts were made in the Dominican Republic.

So the columnist rings up The Kid — who lives in Detroit — and he tells her to take a hike. Well, actually he was significantly more crude than that.

He goes on to say that “We never laid claim to our items actually being made in Detroit.”

Sheese.

Then he cancels his newspaper subscription.

We run into the cheap shots as well. The other day we had a reporter who did a solid, informative story.

But some local blogger took her to task and began throwing out personal accusations. The accusations were completely false. (He has since retracted them.)

It’s one thing to call us names, tell us we don’t know how to do our jobs, accuse us of favoring the left (or the right.)

But when you stoop that low, to falsely attack us on a personal level, well, it is what it is.

Reporters aren’t looking for anyone’s sympathy. Maybe just to be treated like human beings. And we all make mistakes. But let’s hope a real reporter never gets into the garbage pile of false personal attacks.

Reporters are here for you, trying to inform and even entertain on occasion.

So if you see a reporter or talk to a reporter, please say hi. Maybe even give them a smile.

Thanks.Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.