100 reasons why I love being a journalist (idea stolen from Clay)

It’s a slow-ish day for me. I did my assignment for the morning. I’ve prepared for my assignment tomorrow. I’m still thinking of a couple of enterprise pieces I can work on before this comes to an end (14 work days left). And someone called for me, but didn’t leave a message.

So, in honor of this field, and also to help my brain get going on the internship paper that’s due Friday, here’s why I do what I do (in the context of what has happened this summer).

As noted in the title, this was not my original idea. Clay, RGJ photo intern, did it first. Gotta give credit where it’s due, but since he’s the photog, I’ve got to do it from the notebook person’s perspective.

1) Walking into the office 15 minutes after you’re supposed to be there, and someone else is wandering in too. Both of you are holding Starbucks cups, and she says, “Looks like we had the same idea this morning.”
2) Getting your own and desk and computer and making a mess of it.
3) Endless office supplies of notebooks and pens.
4) Cutting out clips, even if your byline’s not on them because it doesn’t matter.
5) Having a mother appreciate your story.
6) Having a fiancee appreciate your story.
7) Cutting in front of everyone when getting into a presidential event, even if the Secret Service people make you go through security five times because you need to keep walking in and out.
8) Finding out your story’s tomorrow’s CP, so you better not screw it up.
9) Getting stuck in traffic on your first day while coming back from your first assignment, because it’s raining and people in Nevada don’t know how to drive in the rain, realizing you’re probably going to miss deadline, and pushing yourself (and your car) so you can make sure that doesn’t happen.
10) Finding out that the gruff night editor thinks you’re decent.
11) Working in a darkened newsroom because no one wants to turn on the lights.
12) Getting a good mid-internship evaluation.
13) Learning that you’ve gotten better since you were 15 and had your first byline, but you’ve still got a long ways to go.
14) Finding events to cover thanks to Facebook.
15) Navigating the computer system on your own because no one explained it.
16) Chatting with other people who work in different parts of the newspaper, and seeing how it comes together on a larger scale that requires you to meet deadline.
17) Food and water at monthly meetings.
18) Standing around with the senior reporter so he can smoke a cigarette and explain to you the background of a story.
19) Talking over the top of the little wall to the person next to you about random things.
20) Press passes.
21) Realizing that everyone watches/listens to YouTube videos, so you can’t feel too bad.
22) Greeting the newsroom manager each morning like she’s an old friend.
23) Seeing your story on the front page, above the fold.
24) Hearing people talking about your story at Starbucks.
25) Seeing that your enterprise story on a particular subject printed on the same day as The New York Times/Washington Post/NPR, then contacting those reporters to say you enjoyed their pieces, and they say you did good too.
26) Free copies of the newspaper every day.
27) Seeing how people do have hope for the future of this business, whether it’s during a meeting or while you’re interviewing the executive editor.
28) Filling in as a night/weekend reporter.
29) Having weekends off.
30) Not having weekends off.
31) Getting messages on the board just for you.
32) “Reno Gazette-Journal, this is Jessica.”
33) Not having to pay for the $10 Miss Nevada program because you’re press.
24) Trying to get better at narrative writing.
25) Free ice cream because the publisher felt like it.
26) It’s OK that you’re Twittering at work, because your boss is twittering too.
27) There’s (usually) something to do. You just have to ask different editors.
28) Coffee.
29) Getting to tour construction projects.
30) Waking up before the crack of dawn for an assignment.
31) Driving everywhere.
33) Listening to NPR in the car while you’re on your way to an assignment.
34) Discussing the pros and cons of the local NPR station’s format change with one of your editors.
35) Having the photo staff moan when you wander in with an assignment, because of what you did yesterday.
36) Meeting other reporters from different places.
37) Simply doing your job.
38) Learning how the other half lives because you needed to interview them at their house.
39) Interviewing children under the age of 5.
40) People expressing surprise when you say you work here, and you say your a reporter.
41) Comparing internship experiences with other people.
42) Driving down a billion different streets to figure out the best and fastest way to the office.
43) Getting press packets.
44) Learning how to localize an issue.
45) Even if it is the Dark Side, realizing the PR people can help.
46) Finding the story in the first place.
47) Tracking down sources.
48) Talking with other reporters and editors on how else a story can be done.
49) Getting out of the office.
50) Seeing your editor on MySpace, checking out one of his favorite bands.
51) Having your stuff picked up by AP.
52) Writing 40-inch stories and then a sidebar, and being told, “It’s the CP. Don’t worry about the length.”
53) Trying to use what little Spanish you know to communicate with someone.
54) Wild horses.
55) Walking along with a parade because you’re covering it.
56) Going down to the river because you’re writing a story about it.
57) Understanding both sides of the story.
58) Talking with the AP reporter and seeing how disgruntled they are to be at the event you’re covering too.
59) Meeting Geraldine Ferraro (even if you didn’t like her very much).
60) Chatting with a kid who you know is going places.
61) Memorizing the number to the local weather station because you’ve called that often.
62) Making mistakes, then fixing them.
63) Punching the gas in a car that’s not yours, because the director of a program insisted that you couldn’t write properly about it unless you’d done it yourself.
64) Meeting a Brazilian race car driver.
65) Hoping that someone eats it at the beauty pageant and meeting the sweet parents whose daughter you wrote a profile on months ago.
66) Wearing jeans and flip flops to work.
67) Experiencing the journalism adrenaline rush.
68) Being satisfied with how it all turned out.
69) Hearing the bell twice a day for the news meeting.
70) “She’s a trooper this week.”
71) Having access to online digital archives.
72) Pitching story ideas, and then getting the go-ahead to do them.
73) Watching a play because it’s part of your job.
74) It’s not about talent – it’s about persistence.
75) Someone else does agree that Anderson Cooper is amazing.
76) Warnings about energy drinks, then the sigh and the “But I understand.”
77) Eating at your desk.
78) Getting people to open up to you.
79) Discovering that there are different kinds of reporting styles.
80) Offroading in vehicles meant for suburban streets.
81) Coming up with conspiracy theories on why sources don’t call back.
82) Agonizing over the words because you don’t feel like your telling the story right.
83) Nothing is ever the same on a day-to-day basis.
84) Google Maps is God.
85) Figuring out what are proper shoes to wear as a reporter, since they need to be nice but comfortable to walk in.
86) Seeing parents bring the cutest little kids into the newsroom.
87) The comment wars your story starts.
88) Hearing someone else describe exactly what you’re thinking: “Stupid hourglass of doom.”
89) Thinking that maybe broadcast isn’t THAT bad.
90) Finding out that your time spent here was more productive than someone else’s internship.
91) Someone else is paying for your gas.
92) Meeting the people who’ve been working in this industry for forever, and talking with them about their experiences.
93) Making a boring assignment into an interesting story.
94) Everyone started out where you are. You might make it after all.
95) Having the questions come out as naturally as a conversation.
96) The little things.
97) Explaining that yes, despite the daily hustle and the stress and the long hours, you really do want to do this with your life.
98) Being unsure of what comes next.
99) Recognizing a good quote when you hear one.
100) Experiencing something you never may have otherwise.


3 thoughts on “100 reasons why I love being a journalist (idea stolen from Clay)

  1. Winter says:

    Did you really punch a car specifically for a story? Within city limits? Sounds fun. Anderson Cooper is a great anchor but I’m partial to Wolf Blitzer. Anyway, I’m back in the States and ready for an exciting school year (still adjusting to the Nevada time zone though). Check my blog for more photo/illo updates, talk to you later.

  2. Marcel says:

    Wonderful list: It almost made me regret leaving the business. Keep up the attitude and the world is yours, Jessica.

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