Give People a Voice

I’ve said a hundred times that I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.

Just this past week I held up the paper a few times because of questions on my stories.

One of the questions stuck out to me.

My editor asked me if I had contacted a man at the center of a controversy in one of my towns. I told him I hadn’t. He gave me a puzzled look and said I had better make the call before the paper goes out.

I gave him a startled look and said, well, the man in question doesn’t have a say in the controversy. I was probably rude about it, too. I was mad at myself for not thinking of it. I was mad at myself because I knew I was wrong.

I immediately called the man, got some quotes and finished the story up.

My editor thanked me for getting it done. He said it’s crucial to give a named person in the middle of a controversy a voice.

He said it doesn’t matter if the person has a say in the matter, or not. It’s about giving them an opportunity to say what they want to say and, all the while, putting another quote into the story.

My editor said the story was fine the way it was, but, with the quotes from the man in question, the story was that much better. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I missed it.

While driving home after deadline, I really started to think about it.

How could I have missed that? How could I have been that engrossed in writing to not even give a courtesy call to the man?

I don’t have an excuse, but I’ll remember this one for a long time. If I’ve learned anything since I started full-time, it’s that it’s my job to give people a voice. It’s my job to get those voices out there.

My story wouldn’t have been biased had I not gotten those quotes in there. But, it wouldn’t have been the same story. It just wouldn’t have been complete.
A story always has to be complete.



One Response to Give People a Voice

  1. opiningquill says:

    If you put yourself in the middle of the controversy then look at the man in the glass, you will think of the biblical expression, do unto others as you would have done unto you…….give them their voice it’s the right thing to do.

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