Keep Your Mouth Shut

I go to a lot of meetings.

People make jokes. People make things up. People, at times, also say some pretty offensive things.

I know I haven’t seen or heard it all, but I really think that I’ve seen a lot that could happen in a meeting.

I haven’t seen any fights, but many residents have come close to starting some.

Disclaimer: I realize that this is my job. This post isn’t about me complaining. It’s more about, through everything, you have to keep your mouth shut.

As a reporter, you have to keep out of the tension and drama. Keep your head down and take notes. That’s the best advice I can give you.

It may be harder to do when you’re in the thick of a situation, but keep it in the back of your mind.

I don’t even try to make facial expressions at meetings. I don’t want anyone to see that I’m leaning one way over another.

That would be both unprofessional and would make sources “hate” you. It’s one thing to say or do something in confidence, but not in the middle of a meeting.

It doesn’t have to be the dramatic, either.

Some meetings are 30 minutes, while others can go for hours.

One trick I use is to write down everything, no matter how slow the meeting may be moving.

I’ve found it makes the time go by faster and it keeps me focused. I have a hard time paying attention sometimes and this trick really helps ground me.

I think people would be surprised at how long some meetings last.

It can get frustrating. I’ve missed plenty of football/baseball/hockey/basketball games. I’ve missed plenty of family functions. But I signed up for this and it’s all okay. As frustrated as you may get, you have to keep your mouth shut. you don’t want to say anything that could get yourself, or your paper, in trouble.

Of course, you can think it all you want. I’m not saying no one should get frustrated because we are all human. It’s going to happen.

Just remember to keep your mouth shut.

And remember, many towns have been starting to video record their meetings. That should be another incentive to reporters to keep their actions in mind. You don’t want to be caught doing something that could haunt you in the future.

Jonathan

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2 Responses to Keep Your Mouth Shut

  1. opiningquill says:

    Keeping “your mouth shut” and listening is fine advice, perhaps that is why God gave you two ears and only one mouth. In education we spend far more time developing speaking skills than we do listening skills perhaps it should be more balanced.

    • Hey,

      Listening is something, as you said, is rarely touched on.

      In college, they didn’t teach me what to listen for. There was no guidance. I’ve always wondered why that is. How can I do my job effectively, once I graduate, if I haven’t had any real training?

      No one really ever mentioned it, either. I never realized how much listening I would have to do until I started covering meetings each week. It’s not as easy as one may assume. Paying attention is a real art.

      Jonathan

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