Thursday, March 02, 2006

Going well at work. In tomorrow's paper I'll have four unattributed brief town meeting previews, an even briefer announcement that a local store is being closed, and a 700-word story about an informational meeting to discuss a work camp for minimum-security convicts in a nearby town.

I used to be regarded by myself and others as really cynical, and in at least some ways it's accurate, but clearly not entirely. Because a truly cynical person would not have been surprised or disappointed in the least by the levels of "not in my backyard" that were present at said meeting. I never expected it to be popular, but nor did I expect people to be mad at the selectmen of the town for just having an informational meeting. I mean, it was ridiculous. The first half-dozen people who spoke up talked about "druggies" and how it's convicts they're bringing to the town, not "upstanding people", and they were insinuating and stating outright some downright mean stuff about the selectmen who voted to have the meeting who, in a town like this, are figuratively if not literally their own neighbors.

There are good reasons to oppose something like this, obviously. But it was a good half-hour before anyone used any of them.

EDIT: Heh, just goes to show, there are (at least) two sides to every story. I wrote most of the first two paragraphs above during a little downtime at work yesterday. (Which will be much rarer here than it was at the foundation. If I even have the opportunity more than once a week I'll be very surprised.) Soon after that I ran into someone who works for the phone book publisher, which is in the same building and owned by the same guy as the newspaper. I had met her and we talked a little on Tuesday. Much to my chagrin, she pointed out to me that she had been one of the people at the meeting. In fact, she was the one afraid of "druggies" and I quoted her husband with a negative opinion of the camp. I didn't recognize her at the time, but as soon as she pointed it out to me it was obvious. She didn't say anything to me at the meeting just to give me a chance to do the job I was new to in some ways.

So right that minute I was worried that in addition to the obvious potential problem of bias in the article, I was working down the hall from someone who would be on the wrong side of it. Fortunately, she read the article and didn't have any problem with it. But while she was reading the article, she told me that at first everyone had thought the camp could only be located in a limited area, and the only unused land within that area was owned by one of the selectmen. In other words, the decision to have the meeting was made in part by the person who would profit the most if the camp were made. Suddenly, hostility towards at least one of the selectmen seemed reasonable.

Ideally I should have found out about that before writing the article, but oh well. It probably wouldn't, or at least shouldn't, have effected how the article would turn out, because it was never anything more than rumor and conjecture in the first place. And realistically, finding out about it would have been a stretch. But, well, cynicism wasn't as justified as it appeared. There might be a lesson in that.

Then again, maybe not.

Details about the rest of work, and some thoughts about my personal life, to follow tomorrow or Saturday hopefully. I'm posting from a cybercafe, so I don't want to waste too much time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cy- Congrats on the new job. I'm glad its going well for you. Yay! Cyrus the mild mannered reporter!

Also - you missed my birthday party. =( We should hang out sometimes soon.