I ruined his campaign.
He sounded tense on the phone and it wasn’t 8 a.m. yet, the day after the story ran.
I got it all wrong, he told me. I gave him a lot of problems.
This is why I hate writing election stories.
I noticed my heart start to race because how could I have messed up so much but I feigned calm and opened the documents and asked him what was wrong.
One word, half way through the story.
It wasn’t even wrong, exactly, just not as precise as it could have been. And because I’d forgotten to run over his quotes with him before it ran, I promised a clarification.
We ran it this morning but I had a headache early and I’ve been watching the hours pass all day, ready to go home. I know that if he does lose his campaign he will blame me, and people will roll their eyes and say what did you expect from such a liberal/conservative newspaper? I don’t remember his party affiliation but it doesn’t really matter.
Another phone call and the one doesn’t like what his opponent said and dishes up decades’ worth of dirt under the guise of “between you and me” because he wants a positive campaign.
You don’t drop rumor and innuendo on the phone with a newspaper reporter if you honestly want a positive campaign, I think.
But then maybe he does; it’s four days away now and maybe he’s just frustrated.
Now every time the phone rings I jump, consider not answering it. Even little words come under a microscopic focus and I’m committed to getting it right but sometimes there is no right. Sometimes every word on the page is misread and misunderstood and a sign of bias.
A borough manager tried hard to avoid my questions because he didn’t want to insert himself into the middle of an election and I wanted so much to say me too, let’s lay low until it’s over.
I’m not even covering the tenser races.
One man runs sickeningly negative ads and another refuses to talk to my coworker out of some fear of bias and people who every other month of the year are reasonable members of society seem to go a bit off the edge come November.
And like I wrote last year I feel tired, so tired, and I wish I could grow a thicker skin. This is too public of a job to have hurt feelings.
The one, he calls, says thanks for the write-up, it was really good, and I take a deep breath.
We can make it four more days, I think.
Just four more days.