aruan: (this is really happening)
[personal profile] aruan
Before they get into journalism.

Somewhere in the middle of trying to beg a report off DCF, getting a juvenile criminal record, dealing with the FDOT and making a to-do list for the 367903406743 stories coming due, I realized the fundamental problem with reporting: I don't feel comfortable in it because I don't know how to do it; and to some extent, I never will. That's right - I've been faking my job for the past nine months.

Editing was fine. I can write headlines! I have good grammar! I can budget and edit and format, it's all good, and there's a deadline but it's never impossible, and there are people who help you. That's another thing, reporting is an awful lonely venture. You're always the outsider, suspicious, like an omen or even if you're there for a good reason, never good enough. Nobody likes you, nobody talks to you beyond what they must, and they're inevitably either relieved or unsatisfied when you stop asking questions.

Also, there is ALWAYS a product at the end of the night. You don't always want to send it to your mom, but it's there, staining your fingers hot off the press, justifying the night's efforts. Often, there is no such joy for reporters.

Making something out of nothing, treading bureaucracies and people who lie and rant and are otherwise either useless or overhyped, is eventually maddening (why do you think writers long for columns?)

I was whining about all this to [livejournal.com profile] paper_pusher, and he said totally uncomforting but true things: "I don't think it's something you can feel comfortable with, like editing, because there are no rules to what you're doing."

It's just, there is a framework (though where that's the entire world, I'm not sure how useful it is) for getting the things you as a reporter need: interviewing tips, records requests, phone books, regulatory agencies, etc. But sometimes reporting becomes this insane mess where you don't even know where to start and everyone thinks you're an idiot for calling them, like it's all so obvious. Basically, I hate looking stupid, and that's what I spend a majority of my time doing in this job.

Then there are the nasty barbs we're constantly fighting against. No, we don't get any joy, or more advertising, out of making people look bad. No, we don't only talk to the cops, though sometimes it may seem that way (contrary to popular belief, the average person doesn't particularly care about being in the paper.) We do not ignore events, we use news judgment, and either have the education, experience, or editors' kinks to back up our decisions. But everybody's a critic, and if we try to protest, people inevitably think we're making excuses.

I like to do things right, which the constraints of deadlines and newsworthiness make next to impossible. I'm a perfectionist living in a good enough world.

At the end of all that kvetching, [livejournal.com profile] paper_pusher made another salient point: "...your current position can't be a long-term one, because you'll end up committing a crime and some untalented UF intern will have to write about it in your place."

ZOMG it's true. I probably will end up committing something stupid, like stealing a candy bar out of spite from some hapless store clerk who really can't talk to me or his boss will fire him. And we'll HAVE to write about it, because that's what newspapers do to their staffers.

The biggest problem for me right now is that my story load could be done on the normal 10 a.m./7 p.m. shift, but not on mine, which allows 2.5 hours at the end of the workday for calling people. But I'm not willing to change that, and forcing me into a corner about it may well be what finally gets me out of this place. My current 2:30 p.m./11 p.m. shift means getting to see Brandon (4:30 p.m./12:30 a.m.) - otherwise, if he stays in editing and I take a shift that's not night cops, i'm stuck seeing him for, like, two minutes a day. The other solution involves alternating my workweek between the two cops shifts, which would fuxx0rs me completely into permanent sleepwalking.

Yeah. I hear Disney's hiring?
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