Journalists now serve as their own proofreaders

Phyllis McCrossin

To the editor:

Right now a journalist is working on a story for the next edition of the newspaper. Well, in fact, he/she is probably working on three or four stories.

Rather than sit around waiting for a source to return a call, the journalist is starting another news story. That return call he/she is waiting for may come five hours from now. It may come while eating a quick dinner with family. It may come while getting ready for bed.

On Saturday while the rest of the world is enjoying family time, that journalist is covering another story. Again, he/she will wait until all hours of the day or night to get some small bit of information to make that news story more accurate. Heaven forbid he/she leave out that small bit of information. Even something as mundane as who gave the invocation, if left out of the story, will garner angry and (sometimes) threatening phone calls.

Other than the president, how many people can say if they make a mistake in their job, 15,000 people will know about it immediately?

Right now a journalist is proofreading a story while trying to put together another news story and waiting for calls. With the death of newspapers, newsrooms seldom have the luxury of having proofreaders for their paper. That job falls to the journalist who often works 50 to 60 hours a week or more. (No, Virginia, newspapers don’t have proofreaders any longer.

Don’t bother calling and screaming at the journalist and asking in a condescending tone, “Don’t you have proofreaders there?” Because the answer is: “No. We don’t. But thank you for pointing out the mistake I made because I don’t already feel horrible enough for making it.”

And while we are at it, Virginia, while the newspaper corporate CEOs are giving themselves huge bonuses, they are demanding more and more of those who should be spending their time gathering the news). Right now, somewhere a political candidate is accusing a journalist of asking too difficult questions. Or of slandering them. Or being unfair. Or showing bias.

Right now, someone somewhere is posting on Facebook how the liberal media is showing their bias and only giving one side of a story. Right now, a journalist is waiting for a return call, while on deadline, so they can give both sides of a story. Oh, and they are probably doing it for less money than a first-year teacher makes, with shitty benefits while working nights, holidays and weekends and waiting for the day when they have worked long enough to get that second week of vacation.

— Phyllis McCrossin

EDITOR’S Note: Phyllis McCrossin is a retired career journalist who wrote the “Ramblin’ Road column for Townbroadcast for several years.

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