BLOG by Crawley Observer chief reporter Karen Dunn: The joys and fears of local reporting

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Local reporting can be one of the most rewarding jobs around.

It can also be frustrating, repetitive and exhausting but, in the course of a year – if you’re doing it right – you can experience everything that makes a town tick.

Reporting allows a person to see a town and its residents at their giddy best and desperate worst – often on the same day.

Covering council meetings, researching Ofsted reports, pointing out potholes and celebrating diamond weddings may not seem as interesting as breaking big stories with the nationals but they are the bread and butter of community news.

And to receive a phone call or note of thanks from someone doesn’t fail to give the day a rosy glow.

There is one assignment which every local reporter approaches with a sense of pride and fear - the honour of being called on to write a tribute to a member of the community who has passed away.

That person may not have been famous or even well known about town but each and every time a family allows a reporter into their home at that most private of times, they are treated with the utmost respect.

Reporters can often be accused of being hard and unfeeling. “You must have a very thick skin” is a phrase most of us have heard more than once.

But I’ve yet to meet a colleague who does not need to take time out for a steadying breath or to quiten their nerves before picking up the phone or knocking on the door to speak to a bereaved husband, wife, mother or father.

It’s a task none of us approach lightly and is at the top of the list when it comes to things we dread getting wrong.

These tributes also make it apparent that, although our job allows us to meet the great, the good and the not so good of Crawley and to share their stories, there are feats and achievements which don’t see the light of day until a person has gone.

And, although that’s a great shame, it is to be hoped that sharing at least some of those stories with the rest of the town will help to keep alive the memories of the people who have gone.