Making a rare exception to my rule on column writing
As a writer who works both as a columnist and journalist at a newspaper (something I’ve done at other newspapers also), I have a firm rule: I do not write opinion columns on topics I cover as a journalist. After all, as a journalist, you are supposed to be fair and objective. If you write an opinion column about the subject you covered as a journalist, can the readers really believe you did everything you could to be fair and unbiased as a journalist?
Based on my experiences and some of my colleagues, I’d say the answer more often than not is a resounding no.
It’s something I’ve done before, with great reservations. In November 2008 while writing for the Oxford Leader, I wrote two news stories and a column about the opening of a Goodwill in Oxford, Mich. It was fairly harmless, but afterwards it didn’t quite feel right, so I decided to refrain from doing that in the future.
Now, I am making a rare exception to my rule.
Last Tuesday, I traveled out to the edge of Genesee and Saginaw Counties to get photos and do a story about the commemoration of a monument where the general store of County Line, Michigan once stood. As I took notes, I thought of a great column idea.
When it comes to writing a column about a news item, one main requirement must be met. The opinion piece must not promote an agenda that the news story was neutral on. Even then, I am reluctant at best to venture into the opinion side of a news piece. That being said, I weighed the pros and cons and chose to write a column.
The column talks about how as time goes by, sometimes we forget about the generations that lived before us. Pretty harmless, I’d say.
Once I have confirmation it was published, I’ll post it on this blog around Thursday.
Richard Zowie’s a Michigan-based writer, columnist, journalist and blogger. Post comments here or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.