Handling Complaints

via ccma.ie/blog

via ccma.ie/blog

Complaints seem to come in waves. They hit you when you least expect it, but sometimes you know they are coming.

Some stories are just asking for people to call in and say something, which they are more than welcome to do.

Most recently, we had a story (I’m not naming names or headlines here) where someone called in a complaint over three days after the story ran.

A reporter had written something that, at the time was accurate, but upset someone nonetheless. The person who called wasn’t even the original person. It was someone calling on behalf of the upset person.

We all had a little chuckle when we found that out, but its the way the business is. People call and we have to look up stories that were written weeks ago to let them know that the story is accurate and we won’t be running a correction.

The reporter even looked in their notebook to ensure that what was written was accurate. We were all pretty surprised that they found the information in the notebook, but it’s just goes to show that reporters aren’t out to get anyone purposefully.

We are just doing our jobs.

People have every right to complain, too. And it’s all about how you handle these complaints.

For reporters, you can always try to handle things quickly, but involving an editor is a good way to get it off your plate.

Editors, from what I’ve witnessed, don’t mind dealing with people, as long as they know the reporter is in the right. It’s tough to have an editor defend you when you know you are wrong.

Nevertheless, you need to keep calm, let the person talk and answer their questions as best you can.

This may happen once a week or once a year, but it’s good to know what to do when it happens. Sometimes sources will complain about being quoted too much or too little and you just have to let them talk. Most of the time people calling are just venting because venting to the newspaper seems to be a popular thing to do. I have no idea why, but I’ve seen it a lot since I started working full-time.

Always keep your head up and keep writing.

Don’t let anyone get you down.

Jonathan

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