• November 28, 2014

Why did I get into this line of work, anyway?

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 4:30 am

I’ve recently begun to contemplate why I chose this profession.

For one, I’m introverted. I can get anxious around new people. When I talk with strangers, it’s usually because I need a jump-start or because they approach me.

Secondly, the news is reported differently than when I entered college in 2006. While near-civil war is erupting in Egypt, the newsroom TV bears CNN headlines along the lines of, “Royal Baby Soils Diaper for First Time” and “How Crazy is Amanda Bynes?”

Is this really the profession I picked?

I am tempted to become apathetic and silently rebel in an age when national news reporting is often anemic on major issues.

I admit, it’s easy to get hooked. It was hard to drag me away from coverage of Kimye when they named their baby North West because they said her birth was the highest point in their lives. Don’t they know “north” is a compass direction?

Anyway…

Some responsibility rests on journalism, but most rests on you and me. In this uncertain, worrisome time for journalism, the media just sell what people buy.

A large-scale boycott of mindless, coarse coverage could force info brokers to hire critical thinkers and move past the epoch of gossip columnists and insidious addiction journalism.

People should not get distracted. Through active inaction, the mass public should demand more thorough and insightful coverage to establish a culture of respect — not petty revulsion — for those who teach us in our daily lives.

What effects will follow from richer news coverage? A more informed and participatory electorate, I hope.

(Not that all of our politicians are self-serving. But there are problems. To fix them, people should know better.)

Through better informing the public, a news culture shock could act as a springboard for a stronger democracy.

I suppose that rant exemplifies one reason why this socially anxious editor chose this job — why I continually put myself in the conversational situations I often dread. I believe in the media’s highest obligation — to tell the truth and make people aware of how votes and ink affect their lives.

I have the burden to face my long-cultivated fears on a daily basis. I also have frequent opportunities to shatter them and help society.

After four months working here, my chest still twists before every City Council meeting, as I brood over how I should come off. But the more I talk with public officials, the more I realize how human they are.

In this unique relationship, I’ve found respect to be fundamental. As long as I work in that framework, I think I’ll emerge unscathed.

“What if the next person rejects you?”

That inner question gets a little quieter each week, but it’s still there.

Last night I talked to my friend, who reports at another newspaper.

He said, “Realize nothing’s personal. Even if it’s personal, it’s not personal.”

I think I’ll take his advice.

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