Monday, January 12, 2009

Chachere's Visit: Opinion's a whole new realm

Vickie Chachere, Tampa Tribune editorial writer, came to speak to us in class last Wednesday. She works for USF now; her job is “to tell USF’s story on whatever platform.” Any way she can, via radio shows, magazines, websites, TV stations that accept video, etc. Sounds like a pretty cool job, actually. I can only imagine the job to be somewhat of a race against time; to see how many stories you can get out there about USF within a certain period of time. Scouring through media websites, calling and emailing, scrambling, running here and there, meetings. Just the kind of adrenaline I seek in this field.

Chachere shared her insight and stories about different aspects of opinion writing. As far as relying on other media when writing an opinion piece, Chachere said it is dangerous. I can see where she is coming from but my initial impression of a well-written opinion piece was one that included reports and facts derived from newspaper sources and other articles. I do see her point though; who knows if the articles and sources a writer uses within his/her opinion piece contains flaws or misleading information? You never know.

Some more tips:
- Better blogs are going to have hyperlinks of original studies
- Try to get beyond a one-dimensional piece
- You can bring personal experiences into an editorial. Be careful though, can’t cross over into column writing. Personally, don’t get me started. I have a million stories, and if I begin to tell them with the pure intentions of an opinion piece, by the time I’m done, it will have turned into a personal commentary.

Two issues you DO NOT want to write about, according to Chachere; abortion and spanking. She said a bombardment of emails will ensue. I agree with the abortion topic; I saw great tension build up at some pro-life demonstration between the USF library and Cooper Hall last year……interesting. There was a group of pro-choice advocates standing right next to the pro-lifers, all standing with posters, their messages scribbled in thick multicolored markers. Abortion = Let’s disagree to disagree. Or more over; I don’t give a damn what you say, my opinion is the RIGHT way. It’s never an issue where opposite ends find common ground.

Chachere said the transition from being a reporter to an opinion writer was tough; it took her a good year or more to adjust. She began reporting in Florida in 1989. She covered local government, politics in Tallahassee, medicine, prisons.

Her reporting experience got her hired on an editorial board. Cachere added that once you get a spot on an editorial board, you don’t give it up. She needed stability so she jumped at the chance. It took her a while to get the “he said, she said” that is found in news reporting, out of her system.

She’s had to take the stance that she doesn’t agree with in an opinion piece. Which to me is insane. I wonder if at least one small crumb of her true opinion on the issue has crept up in a given piece.

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