Slowly, I began to hear, "Watch out, she's a reporter," during social outings. I've always been an extremely inquisitive person by nature and interested in human nature. Nothing has changed there. But the writer-reporter tag seems to hang over me like a label.
"Why? Are you going to write a story about it?" I've heard, or "Is this going in the paper?"
Don't flatter yourself.
Sure, if I'm at a meeting and you've said something during a public forum and I have a pen, paper and a recorder, then yeah, odds are it will be in the paper. But we're having a talk over a sip of wine? C'mon.
After pen and pad enter the hand, as well as the recorder and the Nikon, it seems the public no longer looks at someone as a person, to get to know them in a general business sense. No - I'm the paper. That is still so odd to me.
Even when just striking up conversation during events, I can tell when someone is taking those extra pauses, even if mere seconds, in between words, making sure they say things just so.
If most officials, magistrates, politicians, attorneys, city commissioners - and I could go on - even realized how many times small things are "looked over" and not made into a big deal by someone who's covering a meeting because of making a judgment call, I think they would look at "the press" differently.
Quite honestly? I don't even have the time to burn you guys on the small stuff. It's not what I'm out to do. I never wanted to be a baby-sitter. (I feel certain there is a multitude of city staff throughout various offices in dozens of cities who understand exactly what I am saying.)
It's just the nature of the beast. Although in the grand scheme of life, being such a people-person, sometimes the defensive attitudes can get you down, and the snide comments run over you. But like everything - most of the time, in this world, there are the people who really need to trust you to get your job done, and the ones who should trust you already do.
And on the other hand, there is the peanut gallery that speaks out during public meetings, only to distract from the business at hand, and I don't mean by walking up to the microphone or addressing the meeting. Then they are shocked when they are quoted in the paper, sometimes even denying they've said what was recorded. But they never contact the writer personally - they only make comments about it during another public meeting.
(Notice I said "denying they've said what was recorded" - meaning I had an audio recorder that caught what you said. There's the rub.)
These types really aggravated me at first, making me feel as if my credibility was being questioned and all my hard work being overshadowed, but I'm over it. It's a public forum, folks, and if you speak out during a public forum, then there you go.
Especially if you speak out enough that a reporter who is listening to her recorder, attempting to clarify a quote from a public official, cannot make out what was said because your voice is heard more clearly and loudly than said official. Hey, don't blame me. You said it while the paper was there.
Bobbie Curd is a staff writer for The Advocate.