I have work in about five and a half hours, so I should be asleep right now. I’ll be heading out to Middle of Nowhere, Nev. for a story.
And I’m actually kind of excited about it.
A lot of people would wonder why this matters. Why I would agree to work on a Sunday, why I would care about being in the middle of the desert, why I would bother.
It’s part of what I like to call the “journalism adrenaline rush.”
Well, no, that’s not really true. I actually just made that up just now. But here’s what it is anyway – you know you have something good on your hands. Maybe it doesn’t matter in the big picture of things, but you recognize that this can be good. It’s the part where you feel that rush of going out there, of getting the story, of meeting people you would never have met otherwise, of seeing things you’d never have seen otherwise. It’s not that you get a clip out of it, or that you get a front page story, because it’s more important than that. You’re doing what you should do best – you’re telling a story.
It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
I read a blog post the other day about how this guy, this journalist, doesn’t consider himself a storyteller. He’s an “information provider.” I suppose that falls in line with the information center thought process (for those of you who don’t know, some newsrooms aren’t newsrooms anymore, they’re information centers). But I think that’s such a narrow viewpoint. I mean, I understand that as a journalist, my first priority, my biggest responsibility, is to get the facts out there as soon as possible. That’s a big part of what journalism is.
But that’s not just what journalism is.
Journalism is about the world around us. It’s about the people in it. And I don’t think facts are enough to show that.
A lot of what journalism is, of what it does, lies in the fact that we’re not just information providers, that we just give you billions of facts. Journalism, the best of it anyway, makes a difference in this world, and I don’t think facts are enough to do it. For many people, the stories we tell are what convey why those facts matter. Sometimes, an inverted pyramid style is necessary, but I don’t think that kind of story – one of just the facts – is ever enough to show the full picture.
Anyway, there’s a quote that I like from designer Tim Harrower that sums up what my brain is trying to eloquently say, but is missing:
“Very few news stories will ever change the world.
Still, sometimes a single story – a single sentence – can have an effect you never imagined. Put the right facts in the right order and you can make someone laugh. Cry. Reconsider. Understand.
That’s how you make a difference in this crazy world: one reader at a time.”
And with that, I’m getting to bed.