What was really cool at one time but has turned into a big pain in the ass?

I’ll give you a hint – it’s something that takes up a lot of my time and becomes more difficult the better I get at it.

My job.

Remember the highway project story I mentioned a couple days ago? Welp, as I expected, I got a snaky e-mail from some county man saying I made an error. I say I expected this for one simple reason: throughout the course of getting the article together, I realized the county, state and federal governments really had no idea what the others were doing. Basically, I got three different answers to the same questions I proposed to them.

Naturally, one was going to say I had it wrong – but that’s fine. Odds are, plans are going to change so many times by the time they actually build the highway that what I report today won’t be what’s actually done three years from now.

Then there’s the mayor of Snow Hill who sent a letter to me at work saying, essentially, I took what she said at a recent town meeting out of context in an article about a group of veterans asking for a free cemetery for military men.

She’s calling my bluff on this one – hoping, I presume, I did not record the whole meeting in preparation for something like this happening. Silly her. I’m off today and tomorrow, so I haven’t listened to the tape … but I’m 99.666… percent sure I did not do this. I would have no reason to – I couldn’t care less what happens in a town of 1,500 people.

Here’s what happened, I’m sure, since it usually is the case: she’s under fire from her homies out there because she gave an opinion – actually offered her support to these veterans’ proposal – and it sounded as though she spoke for the town. She’s an interim mayor who probably didn’t know that was a no-no, so when I shared that with our readership, she caught some flack.

So now she wants the paper to assume she’s right, hoping I have no way of going back and checking it out. Don’t misunderstand me – the last thing I want to do is take what someone said out of context. It does happen, from time to time, when reporters are trying to save print by just putting excerpts of what someone said out there to demonstrate their point – and if I was wrong, I was wrong and will make the correction.

But how many times do you hear from someone under fire for what the media reported say, “It was taken out of context?” It’s almost a cliché, you hear it so often. It’s as if someone regrets saying something they said, automatically they’ll say, “it was taken out of context.”

I’ll check it out and let you know what I find.

As I said, I’m not going to manipulate the words of the interim mayor of Snow Hill, N.C., simply because a.) the issue isn’t a big one and b.) I was filling in for a reporter who covers that region and don’t want to damage a co-worker’s relationship with a source.

This all goes back to career choices. Here’s what I know: I love telling peoples’ stories, but I hate writing about governments. I despise that.

Therefore, I am beginning to wonder if magazine writing isn’t something I should be shooting for someday – a gig where I could spend a month at a time traveling around meeting with people face-to-face, tweeking my work and supplying the world with stories that truly mean something to them. Stuff that affects everyone and not just the public figures who want to look good.

Something to think about, I guess.

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