Monday, May 22, 2006

whew

I just had a source totally get mad at me on the phone. He's been helpful, if grudgingly so, the other times I've talked to him, so I wasn't expecting that. I think this is the problem: basically, I'm writing a story about one particular medical intervention, and this doctor is upset that I'm including the history of this intervention, which included one bad product. But I think it's dishonest to write about this intervention without including that product - and it would certainly never fly with my editor, who's old enough to remember it!

So he started nitpicking my questions and telling me they were imprecise, which my questions always are, but he knew what I meant and could have answered, and then he was yelling at me about wasting his time and money (if he'd given me a number to call him at, I could have solved the latter problem, and he could have solved the first problem by answering the questions).

This reminds me of something that scientists often don't understand about science writing: we're not here to present their work to the world. That's their job. Sure, explaining the research is part of my job. But the rest of my job is to write a story about their work and the world it lives in. If half my audience already knows one glaring fact about the topic I'm writing on, I can't ignore that fact. I have to mention it - and if it's a flukey thing that unfairly tarred the entire field, well, I get to say so and move on. But I can't pretend it never happened.

Sigh. Is there any ice cream in this house?

6 comments:

J.Po said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
towwas said...

J.Po correctly guessed the topic of my story, and as a reward, I deleted her comment! Woo!! Because it's way too google-able...although if everyone can guess what it's about, well, so much for me being sneaky.

Sophist said...

Ugh, scientists. Sounds so typical! What a difficult, solipsistic bunch of people. As if your job is to do advertisement copy for their work! I'm sorry to hear that you must deal with this grouchy individual.

BASSO said...

Solipsistic -- what a great word! I did have to look it up -- a great word...and it introduced me to a panoply of "sol..." words, including a similarly impressive array of words related to the sol-fa syllables. Thank you!

J.Po said...

Oooooo....sorry TOWWAS! I didn't figure I'd get it right!

towwas said...

J.Po, you're a genius for our time!