Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reporter vs. writer

A lot of things that have been happening in my life lately have lead me to the conclusion that - barring some kind of crazy, unforeseen event - I am going to remain a journalist for probably the next 20 years. At that point I can think about going back to school and being a journalism professor. I think that sounds good.

I really wrestled with the whole journalism thing my first three years out of college. Honestly, I wasn't prepared for the reality that existed beyond the safety of the campus walls, where I feared nothing. I have come to believe that just like some people are "right brained" or "left brained," journalists can also be divided into two camps: those who are "genetically" more "reporter," and those who are more "writer." Those with more "reporter" genes, are those who will seek the truth until the ends of the earth and ask the hard questions - sometimes even when there are really no "hard answers" to be found. They are either not easily intimidated by nature, or are so bound by the power of their convictions, they can overcome intimidation. Those with more "writer" genes, may still want to seek the truth, but are more easily intimidated. We would rather ponder the telling of the story, the words, the rhythm of the piece, etc. I definitely have more writer than reporter genes. The good news is, after three four years of being at this, I am becoming less intimidated by topics, and people. I have come to stop looking at people I interview as hit and run accidents. ( i.e. interview them one time, then disappear from their lives forever). Really, good reporting is part of relationship-building. Recognizing this has made my life much easier.

Both the reporter and writer can become better at the areas where they are less naturally gifted by practice, which is a good thing.


himeywho2 said...

I can tell youre a writer type cuz while you were writing you addressed the other as "they" and the writers as "we". Kind of funny. There isn't any shame to it. Who knows what can happen. In 20 years maybe you'll have found yourself with a job that is SO interesting that you will WANT to be the hunter and attack. lol. Don't classify yourself prematurely. You could risk holding yourself back. You never know what lies ahead...