It's harder to reach people these days

A decade ago in another town, a car dealer told me he was the only dealer in town who listed his number in the phone book.

That was his way of saying he was accessible to his customers.

These days, even fewer people list their numbers; many don't have land lines at all.

Sauk Valley Media employs 28 people in its newsroom. Three have numbers in local phone books – me and two others.

My number has been in the AT&T phone book the last 2 years (815-535-0668). For some reason, it hasn't made the Sauk Valley Directory.

Most of my co-workers have given up landlines (or never had them). Or they don't list their numbers. To be fair, some live outside the area. Still others may be listed under husbands' names.

The other day, my fellow reporter, Kiran Sood, wrote a blog entry about the advantages of Facebook. I regularly use Facebook, including to reach sources for stories. But the social media site has limits. Often, you can't reach someone right away on Facebook.

As it is, most people don't list their cellphone numbers. It's an issue of privacy, they say.

That's ironic, because even 10 years ago, most people listed their land lines for all to see. What has changed?

Probably the issue is that numbers now can be placed online, so it's much easier to access someone, which may be seen as an invasion of privacy.

In the past, reporters have told me they don't put their numbers in the book because they fear angry readers will call them. I can't remember a single time that a reader upset over one of my stories called me at home. They contact me (or my supervisors) at work.

Recently, phone books were distributed in Sterling. Kiran reluctantly picked up hers from a stack left at her apartment complex.

I did eagerly. It may seem quaint, but I like that some people still list their numbers in the book.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.