Wick Communications

One Direction no dead end

In Ethics on 30 Aug 2013 at 8:33 am

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I was fascinated by Peter Hartlaub’s thoughtful first-person column on what it’s like to be the San Francisco Chronicle’s heart-throb reporter. As you can read for yourself, he is the newspaper’s go-to guy every time One Direction, Justin Bieber or whatever flavor of the month shows up in town.

It’s a weird job for a 43-year-old man. And he’s not alone. Many of us have occasion to cover things that we would otherwise avoid. Grown men interviewing high school cheerleaders… Trained reporters writing up preteen gymnastics meets as if they were the Olympics… Professional women trying to portray an 8-year-old who is an art protégé only to his mother…

I think we can all learn a thing or two from Hartlaub’s approach. He recognizes that, even if he doesn’t care for this music, it provides big moments for thousands of young kids in his readership area. He approaches his job honestly, professionally and with compassion for the fans.

I know most of you reading this instinctively know how to handle these situations – particularly when your subjects or audience are kids. This is, in fact, one of the things Wick newspapers do best: treating real people and their concerns with respect. …

I was particularly struck by the way Hartlaub says he responds to his critics. It would be easy to fire back a snarky email when a 13-year-old girl tells you how much she hates you for dissing, say, Usher. Instead, he respects the sincerity of his audience. He responds both as a representative for his newspaper and like a dad. That is probably a good lesson for the rest of us who have occasion to cover things we wouldn’t ordinarily touch with a 10-foot pole.



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