Facts let you get true story


July 1998. I wrote my first story for the Boulder City News. Since then, I've written for Boulder City publications, and I'm glad I'm still at it.

It's been a wonderful, frustrating, exciting, awful, amazing and marvelous learning experience from my first story through this very moment as I sit in front of my computer writing this commentary.

I take everything I write very seriously, whether I'm writing a feature, a news story, reporting the content of a meeting or expressing my opinion in my monthly commentary.

Working for the Boulder City News with Editor Chuck N. Baker taught me to work with an editor to understand his concept of a story as well as focus on a subject. It also taught me to multitask in a way I never knew was possible.

I had written a weekly commentary back in the 1970s for my neighborhood newspaper, The Bridgeport News, but simply turned in my copy, and Editor Sid Feldman would run it.

During my graduate work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I wrote for scores of papers on a weekly basis, citing more sources than I care to think about. The research portion of my training is what I brought to my work in Boulder City.

Since that first story in 1998, I have never failed to record my subjects. They are my first-hand research sources. Their words are quotations, footnotes if you will, for all my stories. I have never been told I misquoted anyone, with one exception. When I went back to the tape, yes, youngsters I used cassette tapes and a tape recorder, I found I was correct and the person accusing me of misquoting was wrong.

Because of how I have and continue to work, I find far too many of today's "journalists" very irresponsible, indifferent and inadequate. Everything is their opinion. They don't report, they editorialize. That's fine for editorials and commentaries and letters to the editor but not for a meeting or a news story. They've got the facts right in front of them. Report what you see. Don't sensationalize, don't pontificate. Like oficer Bill Gannon and Sgt. Joe Friday on the TV show "Dragnet" are known for saying, "The facts, ma'am, just the facts."

Has substantive reporting died? Does every reporter, journalist, writer, newscaster and TV anchor want to be a celebrity? I thought these "professionals" were reporting the news, not making it. They whip folks up into a frenzy and tell them what to believe and how things "really are." They make the headlines. They influence the public. If you want to influence the public, give them facts, not sound bites. Aren't there enough facts to go around? But it seems that today, people can't seem to agree on what a fact is. Seems like we're in a fine mess, Ollie. (For you youngsters, Google Laurel and Hardy.)

A fact is a fact is a fact. One plus one equals two. The Earth relies on the sun. Water is wet. We need oxygen to breathe. There was life before iPads and iPods.

You've heard "if it bleeds, it leads." Well I think that is certainly true of the TV news for the first three minutes and some newspapers, except the Boulder City Review, of course, but "journalists" keep repeating every inane, ridiculous, most outrageous comment made by politicians and candidates until you want to get sick.

What would happen if all the craziness never got reported and repeated? Sure we are going to hear debates and see candidates in action, but what if "journalists" stopped reporting every other word that comes out of every candidates' mouth?

What if the media reported solutions to problems? Well, the politicians and candidates have to provide those first, right? So why do we get angry words and rage and "red meat" instead?

Somebody somewhere decided this turmoil "sells," and the public keeps buying it. Personally, I'm sick of it. My solution has always been to stop watching or listening to ranting. Give me solutions. Stop blowing smoke. Enough with the veins popping out of your neck. Give me the facts, candidates and politicians, just the facts.

Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at roseannrab@hotmail.com or at 702-347-9924.