Daily Archives: June 17, 2009

Sidenote

I am obsessed with Steep and Cheap. It sells outdoor equipment and clothes, one item at a time, for ridiculously discounted prices. There are only a handful of items available each time, and after 20 minutes the thing for sale switches. It makes me think that I really do need a mini-headlamp if I can get it for 67 percent off.

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Cold-calling

I swam and aquajogged this morning, about which I have nothing to say other than, it’s over. Oh, the things I do to preserve my fragile little joints.

So, instead, I’ll talk about the second-worst part (for me) about reporting: the cold-call.

Sometimes, when the shit hits the fan and a big story breaks, you are told to get a reaction from “real people.” Real people are the non-politicos, non-gadflys, proverbial Joe Sixpack and Soccer Mom who live in town. Real people quotes are, for example, the quotes in a story about, let’s say, a new dog run in town. The quote from the real person would go:

“This is a true godsend for my house,” said Judy Grossman, 45, of Nutley. Grossman brought her pug, Sasha, to the dog run Thursday. “Sasha hasn’t been this happy since we adopted her.”

Get the idea? Now, in the case of the hypothetical dog run, obtaining the quote is as easy as going to the dog park and finding an owner. But in other cases, like if you are chained to your computer or on deadline, you must do the cold-call: finding a person you don’t know at all who is attached to this story you are working on, getting them on the horn, and trying to make them agree to giving their name and opinions for print in the paper.

Now that I write it out, it does sound like a very hard sell. But it’s a necessity. I’ve had good and bad experiences with cold-calling. One time, I managed to get a guy on the phone for a story about going to Obama’s inauguration. Ten minutes into the conversation, he agreed to have his picture taken for the front page.

Other times, I’ve been hung up on, told to F myself, or berated for bothering people. It sucks.

Yesterday, I had to make calls to parishoners of a church whose pastor is under investigation by the FBI. I really, really didn’t want to do it. Fortunately, and really remarkably, it worked out well, with my first two calls (I got the parishoners’ names off the church Web site) giving me quotes.

Of course, haven’t checked my voicemail yet. Who knows what angry messages await? Anyway, for anyone reading, what’s the crappiest part of your job? Does it ever surprise you by being not-awful and actually rewarding?