One of my first issues that needed addressing in my writing when I started as an editor was opinionated voice. I didn’t dip my toes into the waters of journalism; I dove in headfirst. So, in my first few stories I had no idea that opinion in the media is a no-no and wrote mine in a sentence or two. We reviewed those first few stories, made the corrections and I avoided opinionated voice from then on. No harm, no foul.
As I continue to learn the communities that I am reporting, I have noticed that opinions are prevalent more so than in my previous position. That being said, I do understand that there are opinions and contentions in any community. What’s important to remember is that I am not a part of those opinions.
I figured I might as well nip any preconceived notions in the bud about my opinions and beliefs by simply saying, “It’s not my job to have an opinion,” barring my column, of course. But even in my column I have reined in my tongue a bit to avoid any labeling prior to becoming a full part of the community. Where was I?
Ah, yes: opinions.
We all have them and there is a time and a place for them. The media is not that place. I pay very little mind to “mainstream” media, as I believe it has become a partisan wasteland pitting left against right, but local media seems to have a more careful magnifying glass by the public. You’d better watch out if you reveal your political ideologies in the local news even if it is on the opinion page, lest those who think differently shun you.
I will be perfectly blunt with you when I say that I really do not have many opinions – in government or otherwise. I tend to see myself as the proverbial fly-on-the-wall. I sit there and watch the circus show and report back with what I saw. Not what I think about the treatment of the elephants, not if there really is artistic talent in being a clown, simply what I saw.
My hope is that you will see this reflect in my reporting. Whatever I write after a government meeting, whether or not I attended a particular event, and whatever I may write in my column every week, know that I have no agendas. Well, maybe I have one agenda: live, and let live.
If there’s any theme or message that I used to follow in my previous editorials, it was one of unity and empathy. We’re all human beings who mostly want the best for ourselves, our communities and the people we care about. Sometimes we hit a crossroads as to how we accomplish those goals, and that can lead to opinions gone wrong. But, there is no need to pass judgment, label and demean each other. In my opinion, I think we’re all a little better than that.
I always welcome your comments, questions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me at any time.