Do you know the difference between a columnist and a reporter? A columnist gets to make stuff up. They get to have opinions. They don’t even have to tell the truth (although it helps.) But, a reporter. A reporter is different. A reporter has to tell the truth. A reporter needs to be dispassionate. Reporters deal in facts, not opinions.
Being a columnist is fun. I write a monthly column for our local paper. Recently, I’ve started doing reporting as well. Last month I wrote an article about the first female Eagle Scout in our little town, Erin Williams.
This month, I decided I wanted to report on our roads. Pleasant Grove has terrible roads. A few years ago the city council passed a Transportation Utility Fee that would bring in about a million dollars per year. The city immediately got sued and the case is currently in litigation.
As a columnist I don’t do a lot of interviews. But, this month was different. What’s interesting about being a reporter is that you suddenly become popular. I sent a DM to a few of the city council members and told them I wanted to write a story about roads.
I heard back from three council members and they set up an interview with the city administrator. All within just a few days. I showed up and I was the center of attention.
Honestly, it was weird. They were unable to immediately answer a couple of my questions. “Let me get that information for you. Just a moment.”
Later that day I sent a DM to the person in charge of the institute that sued the city. Again, a quick response and plenty of quotes for my story.
Am I a real reporter?
It’s like asking if someone is a real writer. Writers write. A real writer is someone who writes.
My story will appear in the paper that comes out next week. It will have a byline and, other than any changes my editor makes, it will be the story I wrote.
I don’t always feel like a real reporter, but apparently I could play one on TV.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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