BEHIND THE STORY | Writing as a back-and-forth relationship


In case I don’t say it enough, I just want to make sure I have expressed how grateful I am for the many readers who have emailed me over the years with tips for stories, thoughts on subjects we’ve covered in TC Daily Planet, their own experiences and perspectives, and suggestions for further inquiry. Really, sometime I don’t know what I would do with out that essential engagement.

A little over a week ago, I covered a walk-in organized by the Saint Paul Teacher’s Federation in Saint Paul schools.  I didn’t receive a press release about it. A teacher reached out to my editor to make sure we knew about the walk-in and the reasons behind it. 

I spoke to the teacher at some length about a few different issues and in the end, she didn’t feel comfortable using her name in an article because she felt there might be retaliation. She told me it was actually her union steward who advised her not to use her name. It’s certainly frustrating for me, because it’s difficult to put a story together when you don’t have any quotable sources, and Lord knows I get in trouble when I try to pass off a story with anonymous sources.

Still, I am happy to hear from individuals even if it’s just background information. Unfortunately for me as a freelance writer, I don’t have just one “beat”, but write about a number of topics, so it can be a lot to try to nurture relationships with potential sources for all of the topics that I write about. That’s why I so appreciate all of the people that are willing to keep in touch with me on Facebook and email over the years.

What I’m realizing more and more is that when I write it’s not like I’m spewing out words into the abyss. Instead, I’m really communicating ideas and thoughts to a specific group of people. And while some people might just read one article or two that passes them by, others read my work regularly, and my engage with me (or other TC Daily Planet writers) through social networking or even in person. It’s that back and forth that I think is really special about TC Daily Planet especially, and I hope to be better in the future about being more responsive. It can be a lot sometimes. It’s hard to respond to every email that comes into by inbox. But I feel like it’s important to try to recognize that it’s a back and forth relationship.