Most reporters, believe it or not, just want to tell a good story
As the ball jumped off Logan Havlik’s bat and sailed into right field last Tuesday night, two immediate thoughts came to mind.
Please, Waukon right fielder, whomever you are, don’t pick this time to make a sensational catch.
And, this is a story; after all, it’s a senior getting his first career basehit on Senior Night.
My wish on the former was answered and the latter appeared on Page 1 of the Tribune on Friday.
We finished that paper and sent it to the printer Thursday morning, and my attention turned to putting together our annual visitor’s guide.
For the next day and a half, my life felt like it revolved around festivals, celebrations, towns, parks … well, you get the idea.
But sometime Thursday evening, I checked my social media accounts and learned of what had happened that afternoon in Annapolis, Md., where a man armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades stormed into a newsroom of a Maryland community newspaper chain and killed five staff members and injured two others.
We’ve had so many mass shootings in recent years that I barely thought twice about it, but then I went home, and my son Noah asked me about it.
“Did you know the guy was like pissed at the paper? Do you ever worry about that?”
And for a moment, I thought about all the times people haven’t been happy with something I wrote or something we didn’t cover and wondered if anyone had ever seriously thought about putting a bullet into me or one of my co-workers.
I shuddered, to tell you the truth.
My first newspaper job — if you don’t count writing up game stories for some of the coaches when I was in high school — was at a paper in Amboy, Minn., and since then, I’ve worked at dailies and weeklies in Mankato, Minn., Mason City, Ottumwa, Forest City and New Hampton.
I’ve met hundreds — if not thousands — of reporters and editors over the years, and like any profession, journalism has a few jerks.
But they are vastly outnumbered by what I believe are hard-working, honest writers, photographers and editors who work the job not just for a paycheck but to better the lives of their communities.
Most of us — the absolute vast majority of us — just want to tell a good story. Sometimes, that might be a controversial one; sometimes not. But for all the talk of a media bias, most of us go to work every day wanting to just write the facts and let people decide for themselves.
We are not Fox News or MSNBC. We’re just reporters, photographers and editors.
My heart today goes out to the families of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith — the five people who died in last Thursday’s attack.
Then again, my heart goes out to police officers killed in the line of duty or any other person who is gunned down while just doing his or her job.
I don’t know what else to say, except that if you disagree with us, call us, write us a letter to the editor or call our boss.
I know I’m biased, but there are times in the last few months when I feel like the “media” has been overly vilified. And believe it or not, I hear it from both sides of the “aisle.”
In the end, most of us, I believe are like me. We just want to tell stories like Logan Havlik’s.