One of the purest joys of my gig as a freelance journalist in North Texas deals with the quality of people I get to meet along the way.
Such as what happened this morning when I ventured to a historic cemetery near Princeton, Texas.
They had a ceremony today to lay wreaths on the graves of veterans who are buried at Wilson Chapel Memorial Cemetery. The event is run essentially by the local Daughters of the American Revolution. I walked into the chapel today to introduce myself to some of the DAR members who were meeting in advance of the wreath-laying event. They greeted me warmly, thanked me for being there to cover it for the Princeton Herald, one of the newspapers for which I am writing these days.
I am doing what can best be described these days as “soft journalism.” I write human interest features and report on actions taken by local city councils and school boards. Almost to a person, I am accepted as media representative and no one hassles me, nags me, throws a dig at me or hangs a four-letter epithet on me.
Believe me when I say that back in the old days when I did this full time, earning a decent living for my family, I didn’t always walk into friendly zones. These days it’s vastly different … for the most part.
There was one notable difference, though, that I can relate to you.
I walked into a school board meeting room a couple of years ago for the first time to cover this local school board. I extended my hand to one of the trustees, who promptly pushed me away, muttering something about the nasty organization for which I am working. He said something about a story that was published that cast him in a negative light … and he didn’t like it one single bit.
He blamed me for it! I sought to tell him I didn’t know what he was talking about, that I just started working for the newspaper. That didn’t matter. I was still the bad guy.
Well, several weeks later, this individual approached me, extended his hand and apologized. He said he was sorry for the way he acted when we met the first time. He said there were some issues in his personal life that affected his behavior and said, in effect, that he was acting totally out of character.
Our relationship ever since has been delightful.
I enjoy this kind of relationship with sources in the community. My bosses don’t ask me to dig deeply into reports of corruption. I’m fine with it.
This is a part-time gig. I do it for fun and to earn a little walking-around money. I am not in it to make a name for myself. I had plenty of that in earlier posts back when I did this job for a living.
Therefore … I am living the dream. Truly. I am.