In my job, I enjoy telling everyone’s story. I consider storytelling to be a part of my responsibility — honoring the residents of the county.
Another necessary evil of my job is acting as a watchdog for the community: getting the correct facts and asking the tough questions. In my experience as your county reporter, I don’t considerate that part of my job to be hard but an honor.
The most difficult part of my job is getting the city, county and publicly appointed state officials to return my phone calls.
Some officials are anxious about talking to the press. They don’t want to lose their seat in office or lose votes by offending someone with their comments. Other officials don’t allow their employees to talk to the press, not for legal issues but as a matter of controlling what is released publicly (I have had their assistants admit this to me). It goes beyond information officers and public relation personnel for the job they’ve been assigned to do.
I don’t mean to sound as if I am arrogantly pontificating from my press box. I know people, especially officials in the county, have their own lives, families and busy schedules to navigate.
Publically appointed officials have a responsibility to the public they serve. They must be accessible to the public as well as the press to correctly disseminate information about issues concerning the people they work for.
It’s hard to ignore officials who don’t return your phone calls after they’ve been called continuously for weeks. We have been trying to do a story about the North Central District Health Department moving to a new facility.
For 2.5 weeks, I have called the North Central District Health Department’s district director Renee Blair to no avail and left her countless messages. This, after being told by her assistant that I needed to speak directly with Blair.
Ultimately, the residents of the state and the county suffer more from the negligence than I do. I implore the public to realize that these people are supported by your tax dollars. Their job is an office of service not privilege. It does not require a great work ethic nor demand much talent to give a good appearance to the occasional board meeting.
I did a story in this issue about a hard working and ambitious Amish family.
Given their disposition to technology, they still found the time and the resource to return my requests for an interview and yet some officials blatantly do not.
It speaks to character and the integrity of people, like the Amish family I interviewed, who still hold value in who they are and what they say.