Life of a Twenty-Something

Just a twenty-something living the dream, trying to check off the bucket list, one entry at a time

An Ode to Journalists

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Ask any journalist why they got into the business, and they’ll probably have a really eloquent answer (hey, we write for a living). But I think it’s rare that we take the time to recognize each other as individuals. Sure, we praise the profession and the craft, but now’s the time to recognize the people behind the pen (or keyboard).

So, all my fellow journalists, raise your cup of coffee (or flask…God knows both are appropriate).

Here’s to the absolute privilege and honor to be a witness with a sideline to the human experience. Here’s to honor of witnessing the happiest joys and the most profound sorrows. Here’s to being able to tell people’s stories.

Here’s to the late nights and early mornings. Here’s to burning the candle at both ends and the midnight oil. Here’s to the ability to go from comatose to interview-ready in 10 minutes flat. Here’s to slow news days and incredibly busy ones. Here’s to tight deadlines and the wonderful feeling of your adrenaline pumping with your editor breathing down your neck as you hand in a story minutes (or seconds) before deadline.

Here’s to breaking news, even when it happens at the most inconvenient of times. Here’s to the wonderful, beautiful chaos of the newsroom. Here’s to the din and the noise. Here’s to never being able to hear yourself think. Here’s to shouting across the newsroom to get that sports guy’s attention instead of just walking 15 feet. Here’s to the way it gets your blood pumping and, despite the stress, this really is your happy place.

Here’s to the camaraderie of the newsroom and the friendships. Here’s to spontaneous staff-wide dinner outings and coffee runs. Here’s to being recognized at the tiny pizza place behind the office. Here’s to that time you seriously considered sleeping on the couch in the newsroom if only the bathroom had a shower. Here’s to all those naps you did take on that couch.

Here’s to all the meals eaten behind the wheel, at our desks, pens in hand, phones to our ears. Here’s to mastering the art of interviewing a source and simultaneously eating dinner. Here’s to the ability to balance a cellphone, notepad and cup of coffee.

Here’s to always having a pen handy. Here’s to all the extras you forgot you stashed in your bag and on the seat of your car. Here’s to always having a pen tucked behind your ear, in your pocket and in your glove box. Here’s to always having pen marks on your fingers (and sometimes face). Here’s to defying the laws of physics when packing your briefcase for a press conference. Here’s to remembering to pack your laptop, chargers, notepads, recorders and your comfortable shoes.

Here’s to the female journalists who do everything the men do, but they do it in heels and a pencil skirt. Here’s to the struggle of finding a professional outfit that won’t wrinkle but will still be comfortable. Here’s to running to the press conference in flats and changing into heels. Here’s to getting weird looks from security guards at the Capitol because you have a pair of heels shoved in your laptop bag.

Here’s to always carrying your laptop charger, phone charger and backups. Here’s to all those times you’ve crouched in a hallway or bathroom frantically charging your phone. Here’s to all the times you’ve been able to live-tweet a protest, take pictures, record audio and somehow manage to conduct interviews. Here’s to posting web updates and immediately returning to office to write a story for the print edition.

Here’s to being addicted to coffee. Here’s to being best friends with your local barista and the number one customer at the local coffee shop. Here’s to all those Starbucks Gold points you’ve easily accumulated. Here’s to the fact that every single person in the newsroom is just as addicted as you.

Here’s to the dreamers, the idealists, the cynics and the skeptics. Here’s to the fact that very often, we’re all four of those at once. Here’s to the bullishly stubborn and the jackasses. Here’s to the fact that we’re all like that at one point or another. Here’s to the fact that sometimes, we take pleasure in being that hard-line, tough guy journalist. Here’s to the innate sense of compassion journalists have toward their subjects. Here’s to being able to balance the two.

Here’s to the truth-seekers and the askers of hard questions. Here’s to the investigators, the watchdogs, the searchers and the curious. Here’s to never taking no for an answer. Here’s to the independent monitors of power. Here’s to holding authority accountable. Here’s never letting intimidation get in the way of a great story. Here’s to refusing to take crap or lip service from anyone. Here’s to memorizing the George Orwell quote “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations,” and believing it with every fiber of your being.

Here’s to those who want to change the world with the written word. Here’s to giving voice to the voiceless and the tellers of stories. Here’s to the dedication to the craft. Here’s to AP style and the banishment of the Oxford comma.

Here’s to the editors, the columnists, the beat reporters, the designers and the photographers. Here’s to the teamwork and organized chaos and craziness that somehow gets a paper through to publication each and every night.

Here’s to getting hung up on and ignored. Here’s to having difficulty finding sources. Here’s to unanswered voicemails and emails. Here’s to the frustration of trying to get someone to talk to you. Here’s to the feeling of euphoria when someone finally does call you back and is willing to talk to you. Here’s to people that love speaking about what they do and give great quotes. Here’s to those stories and features that practically write themselves.

Here’s to the travelers and the new experiences. Here’s to meeting the craziest, most interesting collection of people. Here’s to writing stories about everything from political turmoil in the Middle East to the art of wine production in Tuscany. Here’s to being able to experience everything as a journalist. Here’s to press passes and backstage passes. Here’s to having to express your fangirl like excitement when you interview your favorite celebrity. Here’s to managing to keep it professional.

Here’s to covering election night. Here’s to the one night a year journalists are forced to do math. And here’s to the fact that we complain about it. Loudly. Here’s to the consolation that at least we get free pizza and bread sticks for our efforts.

Here’s to low pay, high stress and bad hours. Here’s to living in a crappy apartment and eating ramen every night. Here’s to loving every minute of it. Here’s to the look we all share when some ignorant soul not in the news business tells us “journalism is dead.” Here’s to knowing that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

Here’s to the innovations and advancements in our craft. Here’s to the excitement of online news and long form journalism. Here’s to interactive webpages and stories. Here’s to user-generated content and all the creative ways to tell stories.

Here’s to front page, above the fold stories. Here’s to the thrill you feel every time you see your byline in print, even if it’s been printed a hundred times before. Here’s to taking pride in your work. Here’s to getting feedback from the people who’ve been touched by your writing. Here’s to hearing their stories. Here’s to embracing social media and interacting with your readers.

And here’s to going old school and still loving the feel of the paper in your hands and the ink stains on your fingertips. Here’s to being total in love with the New York Times and fangirl-ing every time they create an amazing multimedia package or gorgeous front page design. Here’s to the NYT being every reporter’s dream job at one point or another.

Here’s to telling yourself at least three times a week that you hate your job and you should have picked something that would pay off all those student loans. Here’s to knowing that’s an absolute lie. Here’s to knowing, deep down, that you are so in love with your job. Here’s to not needing to make millions to have a satisfying career.

So here’s to us. Here’s to the journalists of the world. Here’s to the free press, the fourth estate. Here’s to all the dreamers and idealists and jackasses. Here’s to each and every one of us. Here’s to knowing we have the best damn job in the world and we wouldn’t change a thing. Here’s to the journalists. So raise your coffee cup (or flask), take a drink and pat yourselves on the back. Now get back to work. After all, we have a paper to put out.

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This entry was posted on February 4, 2014 by and tagged , , , .
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