Friday, November 17, 2006
A co-worker, who recently attended a workshop for journalists, reported that an expert at the meeting said the reporters who know how to "crunch numbers" are the ones who will be in great demand.
Crunch numbers...what does that mean? Give me a break.
In my opinion the sole role of a reporter is to observe and then use words appropriately to report accurately what is seen and heard. And that means telling the public the who, what, when, where, why and how of an event or incident.
Crunching is something I reserve for peanut brittle.
I also do not attend upcoming meetings. Those sound like rather messy affairs to me.
Ladies and gents, when we allow new expressions to creep into our language, we better be sure they aren't going to butcher, maul and obfuscate what we're trying to say before we adopt them.
Journalists should be especially careful about the words they use and how they use them. As recorders of what happens around us, we have many opportunities to make errors. And most of us live in fear of doing just that. The constant vigilance against mistakes is what adds the stress to our otherwise enjoyable vocation.
When one thinks of the millions of words a reporter dishes out annually, it is a minor miracle that more errors don't creep into our stories.
I have served news to the public for more than 30 years. It's been a pleasure, but it's also been a road on which I've tried to trod carefully. I've been aware that the written word-when printed by a company that buys paper by the ton and ink by the barrel-can educate, inform and sometimes even influence and harm. Like Johnny Cash, we walk the line.
Ever since I was a little kid sitting at a child's roll-top desk, I have been spilling out words, either for my own edification and entertainment or in the hopes of adding something to the lives of others. In all those years, to my knowledge, I have never crunched a number...so I guess I have progressed as far up the journalistic ladder as I will ever get.
Let me tell you, folks, my view from up here is just fine.