I took a sick day today because I could afford to. The newsroom has enough germs in it at this time of year. My colleagues in classes and meetings won’t miss me much but will be glad not to have me coughing on them. So it’s mostly a win-win. I got up, talked to my best friend in Richmond, scrubbed the kitchen, did four loads of laundry, exercised, showered, and prepared for an interview tomorrow. Right now the chicken is thawing for dinner. I’m not usually this domestic when I’m sick.
Because it’s a catch-up day, though, I should finish this blog post I started last week:
Being a journalist is a little like being an ambassador. Or a translator. I don’t remember exactly what story I was thinking of when I first wrote this down, but I still agree with myself. The journalist runs the telegrams between the sender and receiver, and gets to open and translate them along the way. In many cases, you must be diplomatic to be a reporter.
Something I’m bad at
But not always. One of my struggles as a journalist is looking for the truth instead of the good. I want to tell the rosiest story, but that is not helpful to my readers, my sources, or myself. I’ve been in touch with a couple of alumni who are particularly good at distancing themselves from sources and being fair while still being friendly and relatable. One of my goals for the rest of my time here is to get better at this: to apply my critical thinking skills to the people I’m interviewing, to do the hard work of figuring out exactly what is true, and to write what I find.
Something I’m good at
Being a better reporter and writer is making me a better person. I’ve become a better listener, more patient, more persistent, more assertive, more opinionated, better at withholding my opinion, more open-minded, a better friend, a better acquaintance, less likely to exaggerate, more likely to seek accuracy, better at asking questions, and better at asking for help understanding something.
Now I just need to apply all that to the previous paragraph.
Supposedly you know that you’re fluent when you start dreaming in another language. Does that work for journalism? Or can I just blame my dreams of frantic verification and stories behind deadline on the cold I’m fighting?
The volleyball team is 31-0 as of this week, and my fellow beat writer and I have stepped up our coverage immensely. It’s probably better not to infect all the players at this point, which is partly why I took a sick day, but I’m sad we won’t be able to get an article in every paper this week. Still, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop lying awake in bed at night, strategizing and brainstorming and planning our coverage.