By Tim Leeds
A reporter is just what the word says, someone who reports what he sees and hears.
I have been really lucky since I started this job last year. People have done very well to let me know about things that are happening, so I can report on those things. I have been planning since I started the job to look into things, investigate them. I am still planning to start doing that, soon, I hope.
I have to thank everyone who has called me about what is happening, so I can make an attempt to report on things that are happening. Once again, I apologize for the stories I haven't gotten to. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the week. Keep sending 'em to me, please, and I will try to cover them.
A little bit on my philosophy about reporting, if you will indulge me: A reporter reports what he sees and hears, nothing else. His opinion should never enter an article; that belongs in columns or editorials. He also has to be very careful about word choice, because what word is used can influence the meaning and implication of an entire sentence.
The most important part is what he sees or hears. I can only report what I know about, and if people don't tell me what they think or know, I can't report on it.
I'm not very good yet about going out to find what people think. Part of it is lack of time, part of it is not knowing where to go to ask, part of it is probably just inefficiency or maybe laziness, I don't know.
What I want everyone to know is that I want to hear their side. I want to report what they have to say. But, if they don't say it to me, I can't report it.
I am concerned that there are sides of stories I am reporting on that I am not hearing.
There was a story I wrote a while ago and I went looking for opposing views to what I had already heard. I knew they were out there, because we had already printed a letter to the editor on it. I couldn't find anyone, my calls weren't returned, and the story ended up being a little bit one-sided. I tried; maybe I should have tried a little bit harder.
I try to be fair in my reporting. I try to report what I see and hear, and I try to fairly represent all sides when I am able. There was one major issue I am pretty proud of, because I had definite personal views, but I received compliments from both sides about my fair coverage.
I can only do that if I hear all sides, though. And, what is worse, I have to have someone willing to "go on record" about it. In other words, they have to let me print their name with what they say or I won't print it.
Again, I know in my heart that I should be out finding these opposing views, and I should be out finding the stories on my own without people contacting me to let me know about them. Hopefully I will get better about doing that, hopefully soon and definitely the longer I do this and the more experienced I get.
Until I do, and even after I do, feel free to contact me about things you think should be in the paper. I can't guarantee it will get in the paper, but I will do my best to write about any important stories or get it to another reporter if I don't have the opportunity myself.
I am afraid I am in and out of the office a lot. But, people can leave notes at my desk, my phone extension has a message service, and I even have my own e-mail at the newspaper.
If anyone wants to contact me about anything, feel free to stop by. Our address is 119 Second St. in Havre, phone is 265-6795, toll free 1-800-993-2459, fax 265-6798. My e-mail is email@example.com.
Like I say, I can't guarantee that I will be able to cover everything you send me. But send it to me, and I will do my best.