In the book, Grandma Dowdel doesn't bother to hide her disdain for city reporters. She thinks they are often self-important and view country people as "a bunch of hayseeds." A hayseed is an uneducated, unrefined, and unsophisticated country person.
So, Grandma Dowdel is a little irritated when she discovers from Joey and Mary Alice that a reporter has been going around trying to interview people about Shotgun Cheatham. She thinks the reporter aims to have a laugh at their expense, and she sets out to thwart the reporter's efforts.
Grandma Dowdel admits to her grandchildren that Shotgun Cheatham was a ne'er-do-well who "lived poor and died broke." When the reporter interviews Grandma, she has her own fun at his expense. She makes up a story about how Shotgun Cheatham got his name, telling the reporter Shotgun fought in the Civil War as one of the Illinois Volunteers and that he was with General Grant when the garrison city of Vicksburg fell to Union control. Additionally, she tells the reporter General Grant was the one who gave Shotgun his nickname.
Later, Grandma Dowdel manages to have even more fun at the reporter's expense during the vigil for Shotgun Cheatham at her home.