I have waited for a little to write this particular column, really more out of respect than anything else. I have written this column for almost twenty years-most of them for the Northern Watch. I am now the News Director at Thief River Falls Radio so it is a careful line I walk between the two worlds. I want to give everyone their due and proper respect, even to the point of asking Dave Hill several weeks ago about writing this week’s column-even after his permission I continued to wait until now.
My work history as a dispatcher has been good preparation for what I now do, gather news. As a dispatcher, I would gather facts and information then condense it into something easily understood by others-which is basically what I do now. As a dispatcher, I also had to quickly prioritize actions, in order of importance, and then act on my decisions. Assembling the news, to me, is really a matter of understanding what the average person wants in their news and then prioritizing it.
I am new to news writing however I am not new to being a person. I don’t like news that tries to offer me “their take on the news” or a pre-digested perspective. I want to be objective which is the reason I try not to give my opinion too often; I feel like it spoils my objectivity. I have an opinion however I don’t believe my opinion is more important than anyone else’s opinion just because I have access to a microphone. I would prefer to give the facts, from trusted sources, and then allow people to craft their own opinions.
Now, a few observations about the news from this side. First off, read the news story-the whole story. You must read more than just the headline, as most headlines only allow for a few words so you will never get the whole story in a headline. Read more than one story about any subject. As you read several stories about any subject, certain facts will begin to appear-almost like dots on a paper. You can then begin to connect the dots and get a pretty true picture, even from sources that are very subjective[GN1] . Also follow links in a story back to source documents, you may be surprised about how different you see the base information from that of the writer.
There are two sides to every story. If someone tells you only one side of the story, they are lying to you. If you read only one side of the story, you are lying to yourself. If you get both sides of the story, you may get the truth.
I found a high school assignment in a folder my mom kept for me. In one English class, we were asked to write our future. I found one line prophetic in that I had hoped that, one day, I would end up at a radio station as a News Director; it happened-38 years later.