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Friday, December 12, 2008

"I report, you decide"

Reader-submitted question: In your post-journalistic life, do you ever find yourself dealing with people who would have been your colleagues (not necessarily your work friends, but one of those people who you don't necessarily know well, but work with), and thought to yourself, 'my god, THAT is why I left journalism'?

Well, this is an interesting question. You see, I didn't exactly shake the dust off my sandals when I left the MotherCorp. I like almost all of the reporters I know. I bear no grudges against the industry, and I often think about going back. A former "cops 'n' courts" reporter once described me as a gal on the dark side who has her heart firmly stapled to journalism. I am pretty sure that if I hadn't had a baby, I would still be with the CBC.

So even though I can identify problems, I don't usually see them as reasons to leave. Quite the opposite, in fact: I usually see them as reasons I should go back.

Most of my closest friends are former reporters. One of them visited recently, and we eventually got to talking about the frustration we sometimes feel as news consumers rather than producers. I will listen to the radio or read the paper and think that the news could have been reported much better. I often see developing trends that are never reported. I can see how one incident raises a number of questions, none of them answered in the story. There can be enough material for an entire series, but the story ends up as a one-off because the reporter hasn't identified the real issue.

It's frustrating. And it's depressing when journalists pretend that none of this matters. It does matter, and they are responsible for helping us to understand our world.

I do think about going back; I think about it all the time. I've been told that you can never go back, but I'm not sure that's true. I write about journalism because I really do believe that the industry can improve. I don't think I'd be able to bear it if I believed otherwise.

Thanks for your question.

5 comments:

Jackie S. Quire said...

If there's anyone I can see "going back after black" (get it? dark side? black? innuendo? hahaha I crack me up) it's you.

Gifted Typist said...

A friend in London was a subeditor on the News of The World with a circ. of 4 million. Good job, good prospects (she was a crackerjack) good life in London.

Then one day she looked up at the news desk and she saw the wreckage - divorces, drunks, anti-social types, estranged from kids ... and she said to herself, that's me in 25 years from now.

So she quit her job, had a baby and started a daycare.

Mongoose said...

Maybe you need to start your own newspaper! I'd hire you to run mine, but, you know... Sales aren't high enough to pay you right now. ;)

A. said...

Megan,

Now, not always is it the reporters fault it's a one off...sometimes editors or the 'final say' don't think the story merits anything more. But, there are some cases, sometimes more than not, that the reporter just doesn't get it.

I think a lot of the better, news-savvy journalists get flustered with the business and bolt and the industry ends up being saturated with mediocre wannabes. There are a small percentage of good journalists out there and they do the job well, but unfortunately there are plenty of the clueless types.

Gifted Typist,

Your story is interesting because it's the majority of the stereotypes you would see in a news room...but, for most in the news business, it's a sacrifice we take to do the job we do. There are consequences, some severe, when dedicating your life to being a journalist.

Some people are willing to take that change, some, not.

scribe said...

Keep your job. The Chicago Tribune declared bankruptcy, the Miami Herald (among others) is up for sale, and the Detroit Free News have just announced they're only going to home delivery 3/x/wk! Broadcast news is cutting salaries and coverage areas. I used to think we were a nation of idiots. But I now think we are a world of idiots.