Journalist conjures up associations like “pushy,” untrustworthy,” and the thought of speaking to a journalist sparks fear in many people.
I totally get it. To some degree, the bad rap is deserved.
Some reporters are pushy as they are watching the clock tick toward deadline (and they probably procrastinated). Some reporters ask questions that reveal quite clearly that they have an agenda – a specific (often negative) slant in mind. Some reporters take notes, but you can tell when they don’t hear the precise message that you are trying to convey. And perhaps the worst experience, some reporters quote you but the words between the quotation marks are just not your own.
That reporter is not me, nor is it any member of the Hanover Magazine staff.
Accuracy, respect, assuming the best in people rather than the worst are hallmarks for our publication.
It’s funny how often I hear myself saying “My name is Lisa Breslin – I’m the editor for Hanover Magazine – and I’m calling to see if I can talk to (insert name here) about a story. It’s a feel-good story – don’t worry.”
My hope is diffuse the inevitable dread, the inevitable pause that follows an announcement that you are reporter.
To mitigate the understandable dread, I spend a lot of time sincerely assuring folks that I’m a good journalist (like Glenda the good witch) and that accuracy matters to me. It does. I assure people that I value their time and that I know how hard it is to find time during a busy day to talk to a journalist. It is.
It might help ease apprehension if you knew this fact: When we decide what stories to explore, we rarely – if ever – toss out negative stories as fodder.
There are plenty of other exceptional journalists/publications that explore and expose the wrongs so they can be righted. Thank goodness.
Though Hanover Magazine is not the publication to pick up to learn about crooks or crooked deals, I do believe that a significant part of reporters’ jobs is to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected, that tax dollars and charity funds from our pockets roll to the place/cause we are told they land.
Yes, there are many things that journalists should doggedly watch and sometimes reveal.
In fact, journalism has shifted too far away from its watchdog role to one of cheerleader. Investigative reporting has become the chaff and marketing the wheat.
The economy of time and money contribute to this shift.
Newspapers, especially small town newspapers, don’t have the money to pay a reporter to spend time needed to investigate controversial news- to dig, fact check, get both sides of the story and then unfold the news in a way that holds readers with short attention spans to the last echoing word.
As the print journalism we once knew eased to extinction – magazines, I’d argue are an exception – publishers jockeyed for readers’ attention. And as readers clamored for news more quickly than presses could roll out papers, they also gravitated toward news is more digestible bites – like nuggets instead of the whole roasted chicken.
Controversial stories cannot be served in nuggets; so news morphs more toward marketing, toward cheery ditties that make folks feel better. When they felt better, they come back for more – at least “the average readers” do.
You are better than average. You want the cheery bites, but you also get a hankering for the whole chicken now and then.
Hanover Magazine will give you both. We will write about controversial issues but not about a controversial person with questionable integrity. We consider this magazine a service publication – a publication created to help you navigate and celebrate your lives with more purpose and, sometimes, more efficiency.
We love being part of your community. We appreciate that you trust us to share your stories. And we REALLY love it when you tell us how you feel about a particular story or what you would like to read.
Keep those story ideas and the feedback coming: firstname.lastname@example.org