Dear Journalists, Please Stop Chasing Big Stories
Not too many journalists jump at the chance to report on the latest city council meeting. It’s one of those things, like running to the gas station to fill up a five-gallon can with fuel, that hints at the possibility of real work heading one’s way. It’s not sexy, and unlike mowing the lawn, going shirtless is usually frowned upon.
Though it’s unlikely to win any awards, that real work — reporting on what’s happening in one’s community — is exactly what makes the local newspaper so valuable. Helping one’s neighbors to be better informed requires a fully engaged journalist. Someone who is excited by the opportunity and has the skills to communicate in a way that makes people pay attention.
Readers can sense when the journalist is phoning it in. It makes them not want to engage. They rightly figure that if the journalist didn’t like writing it, they won’t like reading it.
This holds true for pictures as well as words.
These images of a monster generator getting delivered to a water treatment plant are a good example. When an assignment like this comes across the average photographer’s desk, he or she sees a chore. The hard hat, safety vest, and steel-toed boots have to be pulled out of the trunk. (You’ve got those things in your trunk, right?) There’s not much chance of making a prize-winning image. And there’s the smell. (You know what’s in that water that is being treated, right?)
Now, to the people who sold, delivered, figured out how and where to put this monster generator, and then used their brains and brawn to get all that done, it’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal to their families as well. It’s how bills get paid. It’s also pretty important to anyone in the community who likes to drink clean water when the power goes out.
I didn’t shoot this for a newspaper. This was a commercial job for me. When I arrived in the morning, I figured I’d be working alongside two camera crews from the local stations, and a photographer (with a writer in…