Reporter, writer: two different roles

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008

People always seem to blur the lines when it comes to the difference between a news reporter and a news writer.

Believe me, they’re two opposite roles.

Because of the horrific tragedy that recently occurred on US 158, this disparity between television reporters and print journalists have become more apparent to me.

Since that tragedy, our office has been inundated with telephone calls from every local television station wanting the latest “scoop” relating to the breaking news.

Our editor Cal Bryant was gracious enough to share what he knew with these media correspondents, but the over zealous eagerness remains the same, as any 50 second news spot on a news program will show you.

There is misconception that all media are insects that we are all out for the story. Half of that is true as it is our job…to collect information for stories, but the last time I checked I don’t have six legs and antennae.

Maybe you should check under the news anchor desk.

I’ve already received plenty of snide remarks about my line of work and even received harsh remarks from a woman when I asked the lady next to her for an interview while she ate a meal.

As I remember it this woman said: “Can’t YOU wait until she’s done with her meal?” And then of course she tossed me a I-can’t-believe-you-people look.

The manner in which it was said took me aback as well as the lady I had asked for an interview from.

It was suddenly intrusive of me, a news writer, doing my job to ask a person to take a few seconds out of her meal to answer a couple questions. Yes, I am the worse person to tread this Earth. And you wonder why we’re so cynical.

The lady was kind enough to grant me an interview away from the obviously imbalanced person next to her.

Perhaps, if I had a video camera, a microphone and blonde hair everything would be a lot better.

In my experience the combination of a camera and a microphone always seals the deal faster than a good old trusty pen and pad.

Americans are so in love the T.V. they have forgotten about the novel and the newspaper.

Like everyone else, I watch my fair share of television news and this is how I look at it.

When I was a kid I loved watching Julia Childs with her British accent, poodle tight permed hair and her no nonsense when it came to her kitchen.

But then one day my mom shattered that love affair when she suggested that Julia did not do her own cooking. My mom explained that all the food and slicing and dicing was prepared for the Brit chef by others before the program started.

Julia just threw it all together.

Most of the time it is the same with television news, a lot of times it’s personalities regurgitating what was collected for them and typed out on a teleprompter. Just a “talking head,” as we call them around the office.

It’s a little different for print journalist…we do the leg work, we write out the article, we snap the photos, some of us copy edit the articles and some of us actually lay out the newspaper.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.