Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A call

A very proud Kingston parent called to let us know her daughter was in a production of “Hamlet” in New York City's Boys and Girls Harbor this weekend. He wanted coverage.

Without making any promises, I asked him if he could put something in writing, and send it our way.

He was immediately frustrated that I couldn’t take information over the phone (Our reporters do when they’re working on stories; but I can’t - I would be on the phone all day if I did that).

I asked him to send me an e-mail, a letter or a fax.

I could sense the frustration growing over the line, along with the tone of the reader’s voice. He couldn’t send an e-mail or a fax - he didn’t have all the information either — he wanted me to do that.

Unfortunately, at that point, his anger was unstoppable. He was a reader, for many years, he told me with a loud, demanding voice. I had to send somebody down there to cover this event, he informed me. Limited resources was my problem, not his.

By then, of course, there was no longer a conversation.
So I couldn’t tell him that, in the Life department, we require at least two-weeks notice for listings and ideas (feature stories are written in advance; News reporters do daily coverage).
I couldn’t tell him I only had two reporters, already working on 20-plus stories (really, ask them if you can catch them on a break).
I couldn’t tell him I was myself immersed in editing as many stories and pages for our upcoming editions.
I couldn't him tell him that even with such limitations, I was going to do everything in my power to get this item published.

I did get to ask him to help me help him, but he wasn’t listening.

I had to hang up.

Lost in the discussion was her daughter’s accomplishments.
I’ll be waiting for a fax, a letter or an e-mail. But I have a feeling I won’thear from him.