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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014
On the spotPosted Thursday, March 13, 2008, at 9:52 PM
When I cover a county government meeting, I'm generally there as an observer, not a participant. Some people don't get the distinction, but it's an important one to me as a journalist.
I get extremely uncomfortable when some public official addresses me directly during such a meeting, even more so if they expect me to answer them in some fashion. Tonight, I had a public official, right in the middle of a meeting, suggest that I do a story about such-and-such. And it wasn't just a suggestion, it was a question; the official expected me to give her an immediate yes-or-no answer right there in front of everybody, in the middle of the meeting. It was actually a good story idea, and we'll probably end up doing something with it, but it was exactly the wrong way to approach me about it.
It was actually the second time this particular official had put me on the spot during the meeting, so I was doubly annoyed.
Anyway, when she asked me about doing the story I deflected the question with a flippant answer (maybe too flippant).
Please, if you're a public official, wait until after the meeting to talk to me. I'm always happy to listen, but I'd rather it be in private conversation.
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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