A good reporter has to be both curious and suspicious

One of the primary attributes of a good news reporter is inquisitiveness. Sometimes it’s all about asking questions. Beyond that basic curiosity, there is also the need to be suspicious. There are a lot of people out there who want to use publicity to some personal advantage and sometimes that advantage is designed to realize some kind of revenge. A reporter has to be on guard against being used that way.

Here’s a quick story about reporter suspicion. One Friday evening early in my reporting career three of us were working late. We were putting together a graduation supplement that had to be run on the press the next day. In addition to myself, the editor and the sports reporter were typing away, writing up the ceremonies that had just occurred.

I was the first to finish and said my goodbyes to the other two. As I was leaving by the front door of the building where our newsroom was located I almost stepped on a skunk that was standing on the stoop. The bottom edge of the door just barely cleared the skunk’s back. I let the door swing shut and congratulated myself on avoiding a brush with disaster. Then I thought about how that skunk might be a golden opportunity. If I could pull this off, I could become a LIVING LEGEND in the newsroom. I might not have a job, but, by God, I would have some kind of a reputation!

So I dashed back in the newsroom and yelled: “Quick, grab your cameras. You won’t believe what’s going on out in the street.”

Do you think those guys would rush outside? Heck no. They ran to windows, instead. What can I say? Reporters are a suspicious bunch.