Hello, my name is Dan and I’m a … journalist.
It’s been a few days since my last meeting and a lot has happened since then.
For starters, I’ve decided to hate myself. I’m coming to grips with the idea that, as a journalist, I am detested and detestable.
I ask questions. All the time. Just ask my wife and kids, although they’re too annoyed with my questions to entertain yours.
I have this insane urge to understand and appreciate the nuance of a word or phrase. I even have a dictionary. Didn’t we burn those long ago? Aren’t we supposed to look for the underlined red words in a document?
My editors and I also change my words. What you see doesn’t just leap from my fingers onto the page. How are you supposed to know what I’m thinking if I let my ideas develop before shouting them at you?
I don’t have a specific character limit. Oh, and I only use hashtags when I’m pushing the button on my phone. Sacrebleu! And I write foreign phrases like “sacrebleu” to express my surprise.
Additionally, I absolutely adore alliteration. I can’t help smiling when I think about the movie “Broadcast News.” I know, I know, we’re supposed to hate everything with the word “news” in it, but I grin when I hear Albert Brooks asking, “Pretty peppy party, isn’t it, pal?”
I frequently read. Sometimes, I’ll be in a room with a television and I’ll have a book or a, gasp, newspaper in my hands with the TV off. How am I supposed to relate to everyone when I’m not watching TV?
And deadlines? They’re so real for me that I sometimes don’t talk to my wife and kids just before they arrive. I used to work for Bloomberg News — the fastest twitch environment I’d ever experienced. An editor once followed me into the bathroom to find out how long I would be in there because I had a story to write. When I was on deadline at Bloomberg, particularly around earnings season, I would give my wife all of five seconds to share whatever she needed to communicate before I raced to the next story.
Oh, and I sometimes make mistakes. That’s horrific, especially when I have to explain how I could have erred. I used to have to write letters reviewing how I blundered; I called them the “I suck because …” letters. I periodically imagined weaseling my way out of trouble by claiming how tired I was from getting up at 4 a.m. when I learned of a story I’d missed in Europe.
That, however, would never fly, because a mistake has no defense; it requires a correction. I also use semi-colons and colons, which have nothing to do with my bathroom habits.
Sure, there are times when someone claimed I made a mistake when, in fact, the mistake was not agreeing with their opinion. That’s not a mistake — a difference of opinion.
But, hey, that’s another reason to hate me. I think about whether something is an opinion or a fact. An opinion lives in a realm where people need to repeat it to make sure everyone agrees. A fact can and should stand on its own.
It’s hard, when we’re all human, to ignore the pleas of people in power who want journalists and their stories to go away. One of my journalism professors said he tried to limit his friendships so they wouldn’t prevent him from doing his job.
That’s tough because I enjoy interacting, even with people who don’t share the same viewpoint. But, wait, I hate that because, ultimately, I’m loathsome and detestable.