Why Sometimes This Job Gets Me Down

Western Ag Vignettes

Those who won't return calls really bug me.

Published on: November 12, 2012

I really love my job, but there are moments a journalist wants to use bad language (to myself) and get really impatient.

That's when I send important calls out to sources asking important questions, letting them know I am on a deadline, and asking them to simply return the call even if they are not interested in participating in a story.

And the phone sits silent for days. Sometimes forever.

And, that leaves me wondering if the message wasn't even heard, or if the source simply ignores it. I really don't care if the contact is not interested in any coverage, but I would love a return call telling me to go jump off a cliff or something like that.

It would enable me to go on to other things in place of the reason I placed the call to begin with.

I return the call again, hoping to trigger a response via determination. Often, that doesn't work either.

So here I sit under deadline pressure with 30,000 readers just sitting by the mailbox for my next issue, and I can't get a story started.

Because they won't return the call.

Darned irritating.

At this very moment, for example, I have four phone calls that have gone without responses for a week.

And, the deadline looms.

Darned irritating.

There, I've vented, and I feel so much better.

(Maybe I had better call that lady back who phoned me a couple of weeks ago about some kind of meeting in Montana.)

Sure, we're all guilty.

But there is the other end of the spectrum: my "regular" contacts who not only get right back to me, but do so with the right stuff. I want to group hug.

While I am complaining, let's talk about emails. Like the ones I send out asking seven questions, and the recipient responds answering five. What are the other questions, chopped liver? I never could understand that until I realized that I – yes, Mr. perfection – often read the first part of the email and not the rest, responding in part only.

My big boss often reminds me to read all of his emails. I lie and say I do. Let's see if he reads this blog this far!

What a wonderful thing a blog is for ranting and raving. It is a therapeutic outlet and a reaffirmation that everyone listens to me. Please do not tell me otherwise if reality is, in fact, otherwise.

But seriously, there is a bottom  line here, and it is that we all should offer one another the courtesy of a response, and a complete response, because those who call or email have taken time to do so, and deserve in the least a reply.

One final word: journalism is a funny sport. I hear lots of times from people I meet in the field who tell me they thought I wrote the world's greatest and most profoundly intelligent article on stink bugs, but they would never have praised me if I had not met up with them at a county grain meeting.

Love your journalist and send him notes when he does something right. We are such a lonely profession and need your blessings, or otherwise, when we do something right, or otherwise.