If a journalist goes his or her whole career without writing something that draws a strong negative reaction, chances are that journalist isn’t very good. I’ve been a professional reporter for 2.5 years, and I’ve already written a coupe articles that people haven’t liked.
Sometimes I’m prepared for that reaction, as I was when I wrote an article arguing against the death penalty (the specific issue was suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev). Sometimes the reaction catches me off guard, as it did when I used the seemingly innocuous word “fall” in a headline about a local team that had made a state championship but then lost.
I was also surprised that a statement about a former coach not fitting in drew such a negative reaction, including allegations of racism. I never mentioned the racial makeup of the community, team or coach, so how race played into it is beyond me. I also wrote that statement knowing that a) one of the team’s best players quit midway though last season; b) multiple parents and players had already told me they didn’t like the coach; c) multiple other conference coaches had told me they either didn’t like the coach or could see the kids not responding to him; and d) I’d been told a group of parents had gone to the school board trying to get the coach fired.
What I wrote was true, so what’s the issue?
Sometimes something I think will draw a negative reaction doesn’t draw any at all. When NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, I wrote that I hoped it would open the floodgates and make countless other gay athletes feel confident enough to come out of the closet.
Maybe people hated that story, but nobody emailed me to say so.
I’m expecting the final story in this roundup to draw a huge negative reaction. Check it out, along with everything else I’ve written in the last month.