A peculiar thought sprang into my head yesterday, just as I was puffing up the hill from the Village to the academic buildings on the way to our news meeting.
"You know," I thought to myself, "it's pretty easy to be a journalist."
Now, before I quickly disregarded that quip in favor of a more ego-boosting sentiment, I stopped to mull it over a bit more (also: to catch my breath mid ascent). And what I came to realize was that this idea is actually quite truthful.
I think a lot of us journalists-and I am no exception-fall prey to a sort of superhero complex at times, when our jobs are particularly demanding or crummy or we just need a little bit of a pick me up after a late evening burning the midnight oil.
"Us journalists, we're gods among men," we may occasionally think. "We perform a great service to our communities."
That we do. But we also write fluff pieces to fill space or stretch a phrase like a college student desperately trying to hit a word count. I'll be the first to admit that this is the unglamorous side of our jobs, but sometimes, a necessary one.
To be fair, journalists really don't have any remarkable superhuman powers. And in fact, we all could use a slice of humble pie every now and again.
See, journalists are curious, but no more so than the average concerned citizen. All of us have that insatiable hunger to find out about things we don't know, whether that's how to make scrambled eggs or which slugger has the highest batting average. Journalists just ask the right questions to elicit these answers.
What's more, we aren't (all) expert wordsmiths or literary prodigies. Yes, we may enjoy the craft of writing a little more than average folk, but we have mastered the art simply through practice. We write, and rewrite, and write some more-each and every day.
We are also not next-level, post-modern machines. Like others, we are proficient in the jargon and guidelines of our profession, but if you could just hear some of the inane grammar or AP Style questions we bounce off each other at any given production night, the illusion would be quickly shattered. We memorize, and when our minds fail us, we cross check our references. (Or, if we're lazy, ask the person next to us… Or Siri.)
The dollop of whip cream on this extra large helping of humble pie is that, as journalists, no amount of classroom time or educational efforts can truly prepare us for the real world. (Sorry mom and dad.) Before this becomes too disheartening for my peers to bear, let me just assert that having a journalism degree is exponentially better than not in today's industry. But what I'm trying to say is this: we aren't that special. Every day on the job is a new adventure, one that for which no amount of schooling or magical powers can prepare us.
Believe me, I'd love to be some journo-wizard straight out of Harry Potter whose pen turns into a wand that writes spell-binding stories. (See what I did there? Maybe I am a vocabulary genius… Just kidding.)
Yet for now, my pen is just a pen, and I'm… well, I'm just a writer who lives for my work.