Let me state up front that I have never operated under the misguided illusion that members of the media are EVER going to win a popularity contest.
What I am a bit down about is how far our stock has fallen.
This morning I was following the story of a 16-year-old dog in Rochester that wandered off in late November, and somehow survived nearly a month on her own, only to turn up in a neighbor's window well on Christmas night. I called an animal shelter in Rochester looking for info and phone numbers and got a guy named Justin, and asked for his boss.
In the background, I heard her say 'KARE 11... oh, what the heck does 'HE' want?' It was clear, based on that and some other muttered comments I wasn't supposed to hear, that she was expecting some muck-raking weasel looking for problems with her shelter.
I am happy to report that once she did answer the phone, and I laughingly told her I was calling about 'good' news, she was a wonderful gal who provided some essential help in following my story.
In the minutes afterwards, I talked to two people with two very positive stories who just did 'not' want to share them with me. The reasons seemed legit, but it was also possible they simply did not want the experience of sitting down and opening their lives up to a news crew.
I have been in the business of telling television stories for 25 years, and have never had as many challenges doing the job as I do today. From the sliding reputation of journalists to protective PR flacks and overzealous conspiracy theorists who rail on the 'liberal media', just getting someone to talk about a simple black and white issue takes on all shades of grey. Setting up an interview can be like pulling teeth with a pliers.
More than once I have been approached in the field and lambasted for the sins of fellow television types (one station in particular) after they displayed questionable ethics and poor factual presentation. My response was always that I deserve to be judged by 'my' work, not the work of others... a courtesy that I would certainly offer them.
Now it seems even that argument is a hard sell.
I wonder if the telemarketing field is hiring.
Seriously. Even someone who calls during dinnertime has got to be more popular than a reporter these days.