We’d get the phone call. “You promised a story.” We knew we’d been very careful not to do that. Instead, it was, “I’ll look into that” or “I’ll pass that along to the appropriate editor for a decision.”
My favorite was the caller who claimed to be good friends with the publisher, who had promised the coverage. Followed by our response, “You know she died twelve years ago?” And their embarrassed silence.
Of course, it’s not just stories.
People read into the most carefully crafted texts and then respond to only the parts they want to hear while tuning out the rest. Or they just plain tune out. It’s called the theory of cognitive dissonance. If they think you’re agreeing with them, they’ll bend the message their way. If they think you’re critical, they’ll shove you out altogether.
Often, all tripping over a tiny detail or two.
Oh, how I came to hate the telephone when I worked in the newsroom! If you want further proof, just go to my novel Hometown News.