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Should I know you?

November 22, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
Reading Kylie’s “Anonymity” blog reminded me of something I’ve encountered often in more than two decades as a reporter.

I can’t count the number of times someone has come up to me and started a conversation about something we were printing, an article I had written, or just wanted to compliment me on my writing (yes, those people DO exist, God bless ’em!).

I’ve stood there listening, nodding politely, and all the while I was thinking “Who ARE you?”

It’s one of the hazards of the trade and always has been. Our names and faces are in the paper or online. People see them every day and think they know us and talk to us like they’ve known us for years. But we have no idea who you are.

It isn’t so bad when it’s someone who just wants to chat or ask questions about something we’ve written, but there are some people who think because they know our names and what we look like that gives them the right to talk to us like we both know each other really well.

To be honest, it’s a bit disconcerting and it’s one of the things about journalism that makes me uneasy, especially when I don’t know the other person from Adam’s off ox and they’re yelling at me about something I’ve written or even something my editor or publisher wrote or decided. And the internet with the anonymous screen names has just exacerbated the problem. People type things they never would — or should — say to your face. It amazes me how we can write one article and different people have completely different reactions to it, all the way from politely pointing out a mistake to verbally attacking us like we killed someone.

Believe me, it’s one thing to have a shouting match with a relative or a friend when you know where it’s coming from, but it’s way different when it’s a complete stranger getting in your face and you have no idea if you should let them get it out of their system or surreptitiously dial 9-1-1 from your pocket.


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