So how should I act now?

Sunday afternoon, I dropped by a fund-raising reception for Vincent Sheheen‘s gubernatorial campaign, just to check it out the way I always do.

It was at the Hunter-Gatherer. Kevin Varner from that establishment was my fellow guest on “Whad’Ya Know?” several weeks ago, and I told him then that I’d never been to the place but intended to do so sometime. This seemed like a good chance to follow through on that.

So I did what I usually do at such events — breeze by the sign-in table and start chatting with the guests, without signing in, and without making a contribution. Because I’m press. That is, I WAS press, for my whole adult life until very recently. Now, the closest thing I am to “press” is that I’m a blogger. But it feels natural to keep going to events such as this one for various candidates so I can keep up with what’s going on. After all, over the four years since I started blogging, I’ve gone to such events primarily as a blogger, not as an editorial page editor. So what’s different now?

I don’t know, but I recognize the potential for awkwardness. For instance, the next day I saw Boyd Summers at Rotary, and he mentioned seeing me at the Sheheen thing, and said isn’t it great that now that I’m not an editor, I can “do things like that.” Obviously, he thought I was there to be involved, that I was declaring my support for Vincent by being there. Which I wasn’t, so I set him straight on that. (Incidentally, I also saw Boyd at the “tea party” protest recently, and he didn’t assume I was supporting that, so what’s the diff? I was reminded of that yesterday when someone on Facebook called my attention to this picture of me and Boyd at that event. If you follow that link you’ll see that someone mistakenly identified Boyd as Mark Quinn from ETV.)

Anyway, I had a nice time for the half hour I was there (and yes, you CAN have a nice time even if you’re actually working). Had a pleasant chat with Vincent’s wife, Amy. We talked about the pope and other Catholic stuff for awhile. Then I excused myself, explaining that I was going to see “Star Trek” with my younger son, and she totally understood, because she and Vincent went to see “Star Trek” for their anniversary.

Anyway, others who were there included James Smith, Joel Lourie, Vincent’s dad Fred and others whom you would expect to find there. Maybe 30 people. I don’t know if there were speeches, because I left so soon.

But I had to wonder — did anyone else there make the mistake Boyd made? And how can I prevent that? Should I wear a sign that says, “I’m Just Blogging,” in letters big enough to be seen across the room? Or should I simply not go to political events? If so, how do I write about them? How do I have those critical casual conversations with people, the kind where you find out what’s really going on (as opposed to those stiff, “I’m calling you up to interview you” conversations)? Do I have to rely entirely on running into them by chance at Starbucks? I don’t mind, but as a strategy, that seem iffy.

Anyway, I’m still figuring out this “I used to be a newspaperman, but not any more” thing.

“Star Trek” was really good, by the way.

12 thoughts on “So how should I act now?

  1. Elliott

    Keep going they’ll get it eventually, and I need you to report the political news.

  2. Birch Barlow

    But I had to wonder — did anyone else there make the mistake Boyd made? And how can I prevent that?


  3. Lee Muller

    You might as well come out of the closet.

    The closet door has been open for a long time.

    Here’s a new experience for you to try – support a politician whose platform doesn’t include spending more money or taking away more liberty.

  4. Kiki

    Always carry your notebook in one hand, and/or your video camera. And if anyone seems confused give them your business card. It isn’t that you’re not a journalist anymore, journalism is just in a state of transition, and if people aren’t yet used to thinking of bloggers as press they will be soon, then there will be no need for explanations.

  5. Boyd Summers

    I enjoy running into you around town because I usually learn somenthing as well from our conversations. You are knowledgeable and give nonpartisan opinions. Which is important to get facts and not partisan spin. Folks involved in politics certainly get enough of the spin…

    I did not really think you were coming out for Vincent, although we would love to have you. The tea party nonsense was a pretty good bet.

    Hope you stay out and about.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    A big “Press” badge? You can make one on your computer and slip it into one of those sleeves you get at conferences for a name tag….

    and keep showing up and writing. You are a journalist as long as you keep writing. Please don’t stop!

  7. William Hamilton

    I have a badge I made on my computer. I bought the plastic sleeve and clip in a 10 pack at Staples. The Sleeves don’t last. They get brittle and crack.

    I think I’m going to have Kinkos make me a nice laminated one, or probably two, so they’re a bit more durable.

    I actually still do a weekly column for the Moultrie News, so I’m still in print. I usually carry around a copy or two of the paper in case someone want’s real proof.

  8. William Hamilton

    Having some sort of visible ID tells the people busting their rear ends to put on events that they actually have some press there. These days, on the weekends, they need that encouragement.

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