Today, I got a note from an irate viewer (or reader) who didn't like a story that I reported last week. Fair enough.
He/she/it didn't object to my writing or tone or anything. He/she/it objected to the people in the story who happened to be a local activist group. Fair enough.
Here's the thing: He/she/it didn't sign the note. They sent it by snail-mail with no return address, although it was postmarked outside the Twin Cities metro area.
NOT FAIR ENOUGH!
I get some pretty wild, complaining notes from time to time and, if they make sense, I even read them carefully. BUT only if they're signed.
Jack Anderson, the old Washington, D.C. muckraker, once told me that he got a lot of material from what he called the "bomb throwers." That's the type that fumes at their desk for weeks over something the boss did, then finally gets up and makes a copy of some damning document, puts it in a brown envelope and fires it off to a guy like Anderson. Then, the guy sits back and waits for the "bomb" to go off when Anderson would report it, which he would.
But, generally, I won't. That's because when it comes to news, you have to consider the source. Unless I can find black and white proof of an allegation, it doesn't pass my smell test. Usually, I need a bit more information, but I can't get it from the "bomb thrower" because he/she/it didn't give me any way to contact them.
I know that in this texting/emailing/tweeting world we now live in, folks like to fire off their venom as though they're not talking to real people, but they are. Be a man/woman/person and sign the note.
If this is job-sensitive for you, you can remain anonymous, but I have to know who you are. Your credibility depends on it.
Bottom line: when I get an un-signed note about something, it goes in the circular file.
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