Well, that’s not exactly what I mean. I guess what I really mean is I’m not going to be doing any more reporting, so if you’re sending me money for that, please stop.
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I still believe reporting – the honest and impartial telling of the news – is a critical element in a free society. I still believe it is too often badly done.
But I won’t be doing it any more. At least not for a while.
See after several months of freelancing and a few more months selling coverage directly to readers I have reached a conclusion.
I can’t be a part-time reporter. Reporting is not – at least for me – something that can be done that way. When I’m a reporter I feel like I have to know everything that’s going on, or at least everything that’s going on that I’m likely to write about. I have to be familiar with every issue. I have to know every player. I have to know all its history, why and how it matters and who it ought to matter to.
That takes a singular sort of focus. It takes a tremendous amount of reading, checking, talking to people, attending meetings, researching, phone calling…well you get the idea.
It also takes an alarming amount of time. Virtually no competent reporter works a 40-hour week, though the lucky ones get paid for one. The job simply cannot be done that way and done well. It can be – and it had become – overwhelming.
I have too many other things going on. I have too many distractions. Without discussing how much of my time goes to what let’s just say I’ve got stuff to do. Lots of stuff. Stuff that I consider important and stuff other people rely on me to do.
One of those things continues to be writing. I do love writing and I am vain enough to believe I’m good at it. Plus it’s therapeutic.
But writing is not reporting. Writing is telling stories. Writing is expression. Writing is opinions. And yes, writing is occasionally analysis and commentary.
If you are one of the ones sending me money to read my reporting I thank you very much. If you feel like I am abandoning you I apologize. If you want your money back ask for it.
Or you can continue to read what I write. Those of you who have read bylinecharliewhitehead.com – what I like to call Monkey With a Keyboard – will know what to expect.
Some of it is about local issues. Some of it is about our communities. Some of it is about events in general. Some of it is stuff that’s been rattling around inside my head and I had to let out.
That I won’t stop. At this point I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stop that if I tried.
So stop sending me money if you’re doing it solely to read my reporting. I may find myself in a position someday to do it again, but for now I have to stop.