How many reporters would readers miss?

missyou.jpgKeep your hand down, Steve Boriss. I know your answer is “zero.”

This question struck me when I read the fond adieu that the blogger at Left of Centre wrote to Adam Smeltz, a Centre Daily Times reporter and long-time friend of mine who recently accepted a job at the Cherry Hill Courier-Post. The anonymous blogger, who otherwise doesn’t hesitate to criticize other reporters and the paper as a whole, planted this one on Adam:

I wish Adam the best of luck. He has done a great job at the CDT cutting through the Old Main bullshit, despite an editorial policy at the paper which often seems to take its cue from (the university president). … His departure will be a setback to those of us who came to depend on his reporting to see behind the Blue Curtain.

Every day, plenty of reporters leave their newspapers or switch beats.

How often do the communities they cover notice? Or care?

And how often would the community care enough to write positive, farewell blog posts about it?

I can only hope my readers would say the same of me when I leave my beat someday, and it has nothing to do with ego. If I don’t get that farewell, it probably means I didn’t write enough stories that the community really valued.

It means I either fell short of, or unceremoniously met, their expectations for the newspaper. And knowing how low those expectations are right now, that’s nothing to be proud of.

So, to the reporters reading this: If you left tomorrow, would anyone miss you, or would they expect more of the same under a different name?

  • One of my paper’s staunchest critics, both in letters to the editor and story chats, left a comment on one of my stories earlier this year. I actually saved it because I couldn’t believe anyone, especially her, cared. Here’s the basic gist:
    “I have to say Ms. Watling is one of the most fair and balanced reporters I’ve seen at the J&C in a long time. … she’s one of the most professional and conscientious reporters I’ve encountered. I hope this one stays around a while. The turnover at the J&C when it comes to reporting staff is noticeable, and I’ve always wondered why good ones leave.”

    I actually get a decent amount of community feedback — of both the, “I can’t believe you focused on THAT in your story!” and “What a great story, Thanks!” type — but for some reason seeing that story chat from an average reader really made an impact with me. I’ve only been here about a year and I don’t know how long I will be at my first job, but hopefully I can live up to her expectations! 🙂