Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
This morning, I woke up thinking about the nature of rumors, journalism and columns. You see, this is a substitute column. Last week, I heard a rumor about something another company did—essentially firing an employee for helping this newspaper—and I got all pissed off and wrote about it. That’s kind of what I do. After all, this column is where this job and my life and the world intersect.
But there’s something about this that makes me feel a little bit off. First I should say, I have no problem with righteous anger, I express it in this column, in editorials, in conversations, wherever. Second, even now, I have no doubt about the truth of this rumor. I heard the gossip from two good sources that I trust pretty explicitly.
So what’s the problem? Am I not entitled to defend this newspaper, its friends and its readers from all enemies foreign and domestic? I’m unquestionably entitled, and in some ways, I’m charged to do so.
Anyway, here I sit, 6 a.m. and trying figure out exactly what’s going on in my own head. I’m sure the story’s true, even though I guess it’d be called hearsay in a court of law. I’m defending, albeit too late, someone who tried to help this newspaper. I’m not afraid to piss off a business; I spend half my life pissing people off.
Hmm. OK, bottom line, at least as much as I can wrap my head around it. I didn’t talk to either the person who was fired or to the corporation that did the firing. That would be the minimum I’d do before I’d consider something worth publishing in the news section. That conversation connection does a couple things: It moves a story from being gossip to being a “story;” it establishes kind of a base agreement among the people involved as to what “truth” is; and it keeps this column from being a cheap shot, a knife out of the dark. Stay tuned, I’ll probably have more to say on the topic—same bat time, same bat column.