Best effort was not good enough today

I don’t write about my work much because it’s separate from these musings I identify as columns. My old newspaper days show through, I guess, because everybody else identifies them as blogs.

I’m not going to identify the exact nature of my work here either because it is not relevant. The relevance is that sometimes you forget what you can and cannot do. I forgot that today. A lesson learned, for sure.

Part of my job is to do interviews with various news organizations. I used to be a journalist and there were times when it seemed like my work was just fun. Strange, I know, to think that doing a job can be plain fun. Most of us don’t ever get that luxury and it is a luxury. We work because we must. We do our best because we must. Sometimes, my best is not good enough. Other times it is more than enough.

Many of the people I work with today love their work. It is fun for them. Also, it is a calling, they say. That is a phrase you don’t hear too much anymore: A calling.  Something you do for the greater good, not just because of a paycheck. Although that paycheck is more than nice.

I believed  that journalism was a calling for me. Still do. One of the highest callings a person can ever receive. Which brings me to today or this morning. Or, not to put too fine a point on it – all morning starting just after midnight until this afternoon.

I can’t go into too much detail because it would be unjust and presumptuous. In any event, I have tried over the past nearly four decades to take care of my side of the street. Nobody else’s. My side.

I overestimated my ability at 60 years of age to do various interviews starting at just after midnight and running until about 9 this morning. There were still a couple after that but I was fine then.

I used to be able to gather the information, then take the calls, and do the interviews – no problem. But this morning, I kept falling asleep, which is odd because sleep doesn’t come easy to me. The interviews started OK. I was articulate, knowledgeable and succinct. Man, when I was a reporter, I just wanted the info and not a lot of “how are you doing” stuff?

This morning I was all those things but then as the morning moved on, I couldn’t get my mouth to work. I would say the right thing, but it just wasn’t up to my standards of presentation. Some of the reporters – all of them kind as can be – kept apologizing for waking me. I kept saying “no worries,” but sometimes that wasn’t even being understood. my mouth was not working.

I was wrong to make them feel bad for waking me when it was my job. I could have solved the problem by issuing a short statement, but I’ve always hated the prepared statement. I felt better when I could speak with a person. Seemed more real. I like talking to reporters anyway

Well, I got through it and the journalists, as I mentioned earlier, were all kind. No big foul ups, as they say, just kept falling asleep. Couldn’t get my mouth to work. It reminds me of a lesson an editor passed on to me years ago, and that was this: “We don’t quote people to make them sound bad. We quote them to make the story accurate.”

I want to thank all those journalists I spoke with around the country this morning. You made the story accurate and you did quote me. Next time my best will be good enough. I promise you that.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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One Response to Best effort was not good enough today

  1. John says:

    I must say, I love your writings. You right the way you speak. I read these and think you’re talking to me specifically. Love that. Now get some rest 🙂

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