Other than the sports reporters post, I felt like I was making too many negative blog posts, so today I’m changing it up a bit. For all the things I could complain about, there are a million more things I absolutely love about this business.
Nothing provides more stress, excitement and anticipation that knowing you have a limited amount of time to write a story. There’s something about being under pressure that brings out the best in what journalists are trying to convey. Yeah, it’s a pain some days, but you know you wouldn’t have it any other way. And neither would I.
The excitement that comes with breaking news
There is nothing more exciting than being the first to break a story or knowing another media outlet has the story too and doing your best to beat them as well. But more importantly, that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that says, “This is what you live for. Go get that story!” (Yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds.) is what keeps us going. That little rush sets everyone a buzz in a journalistic euphoria that nobody can quite describe.
Telling someone’s story
Telling someone’s story is probably what I love the most. As journalists, we expect complete strangers open up about their lives, giving us all the grimy, dirty, wonderful details, and then we turn that into something that will live on in the history, in library archives, in internet databases, etc. The scope of impact you make on someone’s life — even if it’s just for a moment — is worth every struggle in getting a story to turn out just right. Of all the stories I’ve written, the ones I remember most are about people. Not budgets, not building expansions, not board meetings. PEOPLE.
Jesse Ingram, the man who drove a shuttle bus at SIUE through Madison County Transit and co-wrote “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right” with his brother, Luther Ingram
Darnell Malone, the art grad student who was so particular about how his quotes sounded that it drove me batty, but who said (through the grapevine) that of all the stories that have been written about him, mine was the best
Davey Vega, the local professional wrestler (who, ironically, graduated from the same high school I did) who told me that he bookmarked the profile I wrote about him
As important as all the hard news stories are, the appreciation for what it takes to tell the story isn’t there near as much as it is when you’re talking to a person about their life, their hopes, their dreams — not a person in a high-level position telling you facts, explaining complex formulas or outlining construction schedules.
I can’t imagine myself doing anything else
Writing has always been one of my passions. I loved writing essays in school. I loved when the teacher would have “peer editing” days. I couldn’t wait to pull out my red pen and copy edit all over my neighbor’s essay — and circle all the ‘be’ verbs. Writing is in my blood. It’s the one thing I have always felt I was good at, and one of my three biggest passions in life, aside from professional wrestling and music. Very few things give me greater joy than finding ways to effectively transition from a lead-in to a quote or carefully selecting the right words to create a lede. Nothing compares to this. There’s nothing in the world I would rather do for a living than sit down with my recorder, notebook and a pen to tell a story.
It’s not about the money
For as long as I can remember, I was told, “There’s no money in journalism,” “You’re not going to make anything studying journalism” and any other phrase that echoes the same remarks. But I don’t care. Nobody gets into journalism for the money. Anybody who does is fooling themselves. But that’s the thing. It’s NOT about the money. It’s about holding people accountable, hunting down the big stories, chasing after breaking news, telling stories for people who, otherwise, would not have their voice heard.
It’s about passion and desire and wanting to be happy with your profession, not with your bank statement. Long ago, I made peace with the fact that I will never be rich, I’ll most likely live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of my life and I won’t have great benefits.
But I don’t care. I love journalism. This business is my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.