Many of us may claim we don't do our jobs for the accolades that may be thrown upon us, that it's just a job, a means to make a living, a way to support our families, but I think for most of us it's more than that. I've realized recently how important recognition for a job well done is for a person's psyche, at least my psyche anyway.
Last year, I investigated voter fraud allegations in a couple of Black Belt cities here in Alabama and I was able to prove that some absentee voters did not live in the addresses they claimed to reside. I took pictures of abandoned homes, knocked on doors and made phone calls to unsuspecting residents who told me that no one by the name on the absentee application lived there. A mayoral candidate filed a contest of the election, which is still pending. Investigators with the attorney general's office, I'm told, used my reporting as a roadmap to begin their look into the fraud allegations. Local citizens, finally fed up with the fraud, formed the Democracy Defense League to try and put an end to it.
Yet these stories I wrote did not win an award in a single contest that we participate annually. In six years of newspaper journalism this is the work I'm most proud of and it wasn't good enough in the eyes of some judges to be considered among the best in the state. (And no, these were not judged in state. The way these contests work, the states swap stories and judge. I believe in two of these contests, we were judged by New Mexico and Maryland/Delaware.)
And what can I say? It just takes the energy out of me. To create a body of work that you feel is such a great thing and to receive no recognition for it just makes you completely lose your desire to do this kind of stuff anymore. It makes you wonder if you've lost your grip, that you wouldn't know a good story from a bad one, newsworthiness vs. trash.
But a positive benefit of my slight is it pushes me harder to write the best book I can, one that will hopefully sell thousands upon thousands of copies and allow me to thumb my nose at anyone I think dissed me in the past. :P