Last night was the town election for Conway, and today was the final day (hopefully) of reporting on an event that have ebbed and flowed for more than two months. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to cover something else.
I got a call today from what sounded like an older woman. “I hope you’re proud of yourself for what you put in the paper,” she said. “You probably got fired from your last job.” Then she hung up.
I’m not really sure which story that call was in reference to, but I have a couple ideas. I ran all the candidates’ names through the court system and came out with a couple who had criminal records. I called both men and gave them a chance to explain what happened. One didn’t seem to care, but the other freaked. “How can you do this?” he said. “Are you trying to hurt me?” I heard from some people around town that he was not happy with the story in the paper, and that he felt like I shouldn’t have written it.
Normally I wouldn’t have much sympathy for that — if you don’t want your record examined don’t run for public office. But this guy really was driven to get this position, even though he was not likely to win at all. It was one of those cases when I could feel for the guy, but I wasn’t about to do anything different.
I’ve become used to criticism as a reporter. I’ve written a number of stories people don’t like. When I used to work at the Reporter, everyone had my cell phone number. I’d get calls at home from angry politician unhappy with how I wrote about them. At least now those calls go to the office.
I can hear that criticism, and I don’t mind airing it in public. I would have encouraged the woman to write a letter to the editor blasting me for the story, had she only stayed on the phone long enough for me to respond.
But she didn’t. Elections do that. They fire people up and get them breathing hard. And then I stand in their way for a quote. I can’t expect not to gett spit on once in a while. I’m just happy it only comes once a year…