Do you ever have to tell yourself to take a deep breath? That was me last Friday when a story my co-worker wrote received social media backlash.
Now normally I don’t get up-in-arms about things like that because well, it’s a rabbit hole of commenting that tends to be fruitless. Anyone who works with the public knows you can’t please everyone.
This instance was an exception for me because I have a history with the organization. I have been an active participant in the annual Autism 5K for quite some time and since being a reporter, I have provided ample positive coverage of the event before and after, along with extra features of those helped from its funding.
At first, I ignored the derogatory sharing and comments complaining that the headline “on hold” caused confusion. I suppose I could understand why some who didn’t read the story might think the 5K was on hold. Even though, it was clear to me that the decision to have it downtown was “on hold” due to policy development by the city.
Do you know the old saying “Don’t shoot the messenger”? Well, that comes to mind a lot in my line of work, particularly in regard to public meetings. Lisa and I get complaints for our “negative coverage” when the adverse comments come from someone else’s mouth.
At meetings, we sit, we listen, record, and we return to our desks and listen to it again reporting on what has been presented. If an official or organizer has additional info to add, it is their responsibility to communicate that with us. We’re not mind readers nor do we have the time to contact every person who speaks during meetings.
This column is in response to this particular Facebook post along with a screenshot of the headline “Autism 5K on hold for now:”
“We have an alternative route 'if' this request is denied. This is why I don’t read the paper. Asking questions to both sides would help.”
I’ll admit, I felt a shred of anger initially upon reading this, but more than that, I felt disappointment. It’s a hard pill to swallow when an organizer, whose organization has benefitted from the Southern Standard’s coverage, berates us.
So, after reflection, I have outlined the following points:
• You can’t demean the Standard and discourage readers then compliment me on my individual coverage because we’re a team here and our stories collectively form the paper.
• Please read the story, not just the headline.
• Communication is key and you can reach me at 473-2191 with tips, questions and additional info.
I share this incident with you to show a bit of my perspective. Although, I don’t have to defend my reporting, I always strive for transparency with you, my readers, regarding my life and work.
So, will I be participating in the Autism 5K this year? Yes, because I won’t let a few negative comments keep me from supporting a good cause.
Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.