First and foremost, we are newspaper reporters.

We write, we copy edit and proofread stories, and we work with designers to make our section the most attractive we can for our readers.

The hours are long, and they are erratic.

Nobody should feel sorry for us.

We love what we do. Twenty years in this business and you understand what you’ve signed up for.

I’ve rarely looked at my position on five different newspapers in Kansas as a job. I see it more as a career — a choice I made when I was 17 years old and a senior in high school in nearby Syracuse. I try to convey that to younger reporters.

I was lucky to have a high school journalism teacher who encouraged me, and who supported me in my future career selection. She was able to get our local weekly newspaper editor to let me write many sports stories about our football, basketball and track and field teams during my final year of high school.

When I attended Seward County Community College in Liberal to play golf for the Saints, I continued my journalism education by working on the student newspaper, the yearbook while also helping on game nights to take scores and statistics from area high school games at the Southwest Daily Times.

After my two years there, it was off to the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism.

My education there was among the best a journalist could receive.

I had nationally, and even internationally-recognized professors. Professors in editing, news writing, photography, page design and, yes, even public relations. Journalism law was among my favorite subjects. I feel like I learned and trained from some of the best in the business.

I had a semester internship with the KU Sports Information Department, and learned how to keep detailed, and hopefully, accurate statistics and to write press releases.

It was never an easy road, though.

My professors trained us to be thorough, check the facts, give people on both sides of the story a fair chance to state their case or to explain why things happened. We were challenged every day to get things right, and do things right. It’s called hard core news (sports) reporting. Don’t play favorites, don’t take sides. Just report the facts.

That’s what our staff endeavors to do. Only the editorial page of the news section, or a column that carries our names and photos (such as the one you’re reading), provide an avenue of one person giving their opinion. We don’t take these columns lightly, either.

I provide some of this background as a way of explaining some of our recent news reporting — tough issues to tackle. Again, our objective is to report what happens, not what we think about what happened. We endeavor to get all of the facts possible at the time an incident occurs. We give both sides an opportunity to express their views. And then, the hope is that the public has enough of the facts to develop their own opinion.

I don’t expect people to fully understand what our job is, but I do hope people understand that we work hard and we care about our work. We have a small staff covering a large number of schools. While many folks are enjoying an evening at home, going out for dinner or a movie, we’re busy getting the news of the day ready to deliver early the next morning.

We do this work because we love what we do.

We are reporters first. We're not a public relations firm for our teams. We report what we see. We report what others tell us on the record. That’s our job.

Contact Brett Marshall at bmarshall@gctelegram.com