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The best phone call/compliment you ever received

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Baron Scicluna, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I apologize if this is a d_b., but I don't ever remember seeing this topic in this forum.

    With all the negativity that we have to deal with, (job cuts, long hours, tough bosses, those pesky parent phone calls about Suzy Cheerleader working hard), what's the best positive compliment or phone call that you have received in your journalism career?

    I'll tell you my story, and the funny thing is, I didn't actually write anything: At my first job, a weekly, the paper had a minister write a weekly column, mostly non-religious, about ways that the readers could improve their lives. He had been writing the column for nearly 50 years, but in the few months that I had worked at the weekly, I had never met him. (I was also a different religion from him, in case you were wondering).

    One day, we receive word that the minister died. The publisher and editor were wondering how to fill the space for the edition after the minister died. A lightbulb went off in my head, and I suggested trying to find the minister's first-ever column in the weekly from nearly 50 years ago. The publisher and editor both thought it was a great idea, so off I went to the paper's archives, which were sitting in a dark basement. After a couple of hours of leafing through old papers (on my own time, no OT), I found his first column, and we printed it later that week.

    Several days later, I receive a call from the minister's wife. She thanked me profusely for finding the original column, and said that it was the perfect tribute to her husband and that her entire family appreciated it. Several days after that, she sent me a handwritten thank-you note. The thought that this lady, who just lost her husband, would take the time to thank me twice for what I did, is something that I'll always cherish.

    Tell us your story.
  2. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    I wrote a very very good story on a high school championship game several years ago. I don't know what to say, but I loved it. I took a risk and tried to be eloquent almost magazine stylish (it was a morning game and had all day to do it). Guy emailed me and said it was Grantland Rice worthy.

    I still have that email.

    Two days later got another email and the guy complained that his head hurt reading it. Just wanted to know who won the "damn" game and why did I try to get so artsy.

    Different stroke for different folks.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    This may be cheapened somewhat by who was giving the compliment, but then again, he doesn't just blindly praise.

    I'd written a column in my college newspaper about a racial incident on campus back in 1999 and weaved in events that happened nationwide earlier in the year. I also wrote about sexual and anti-gay discrimination in the column.

    My father read the column and told me it was comparable to Courtland Milloy or Donna Britt. That was the precise moment that told me that I HAD to get into journalism after years of trying to get away from it.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    My most memorable compliment was when I wrote my favorite feature story and had to cut it in half on deadline because of a major athlete dying.

    All day long people would say, "That was a good story. Why was it so short?"

    And, Baron, that was a really good idea you had on the minister's column. Good job.
  5. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Thanks Ace. It happened years ago, but for some reason, I was just thinking that recently while looking back at my journalism career.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I thought you were gonna say you wrote the tribute. But your idea was better.
  7. RagingCanuck

    RagingCanuck Guest

    I recently had a school's press rep say that he was pointing one his students that's interested in journalism towards my stories as an example of a style of writing he should aim for. I felt simultaneously flattered and nervous, since some kid out there is emulating me, now.
  8. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I wrote a humorous column back in college about poor fast-food advertising.

    I singled out McDonald's for being terrible at all aspects of trying to sell anything.... the bald guy who was the unofficial spokesman for Wendy's and Taco bell getting rid of the tostada.

    I shit you not, some student had a parent that worked in the marketing dept for McDonald's, so I was told, by this girl, that her mother took it to a board meeting.

    Literally, days after hearing this.... Wendy's cans their spokesperson, and reverts to old Dave Thomas commercials. WHICH I SUGGESTED.

    Then in another likely, unrelated move, Taco Bell brought back the Tostada.
  9. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I wrote a story around Christmas about a girl who had a brain injury, and her recovery from it. She sent me a box of chocolates a couple weeks later. I'll occasionally get thank you notes or little things like that after writing a big feature story on someone. That always makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

    And just today, I got what I think is my favorite type of compliment. We had a coach get in a bad wreck a couple years ago. He almost died, and did end up losing a leg. A couple months after the wreck, he was well enough to start attending his team's games. I wrote a nice, big tearjerker feature on him for Christmas Day.
    He later left the local school, and eventually ended up at one in our area. Ran into him today at a basketball tournament. At halftime, he comes over to the scorer's table and starts talking to the guy running the clock. He introduces me to the guy, and says to him, "You know that article I have framed on the wall in my room? He wrote it."
    That this guy would have something I wrote, several years and a couple of jobs later, framed where he can see it every day, really touched me. People always say things like "Thanks for the article, it was nice," but you get the feeling as long as you didn't write that they fucked goats they'd be happy to see their name in print. Something like this means you really do reach people sometimes. That what you do matters.
    Of course, when he introduced me, the coach badly mispronounced my name. But the part about the article was still a nice compliment.
  10. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    I wrote a column late in my junior year of college about my close relationship with my father growing up. I felt good about it when I wrote it, but didn't really get much feedback, good or bad.

    About halfway through my senior year, I go to get my photo taken for the yearbook. When the photographer - this random older guy who I'd never seen in my life - heard my name, he said "So you're In Cold Blood. I've been waiting a year to shake your hand. That column you wrote about you and your father was perfect."

    Apparently the guy's dad had died right around the time he read my column, so it gave him the chance to reminisce about his relationship with his own dad. The fact that he not only remembered the column, but my name, a year later blew me away.
  11. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    These are some great stories.
  12. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Baron, Batman - Great stories.

    I think the most inspiring moment was just on a stress-filled night when a fellow reporter, whom I've gotten along with off and on for years, was going through some rough times. I sent him an e-mail of encouragement just because I felt like being nice, and he responded a day later with a long message that praised me up, down and all over for the work I've been putting in and how much he notices/appreciates hard work.

    I've never had a reader comment that touched me other than "Your work is putting others' to shame." And even then, it came from the crazy old guy who e-mailed/called so often you'd have thought he was always in the office, so it meant nothing. I'm sure everyone got one.
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