Paige Dickerson's Blog

10 things not to miss

Posted in Top 10 by voteforjaneausten on March 29, 2011

Yesterday I posted the 10 things I will miss about journalism. All in all I will miss being in journalism. It is a fun career and many former journalists return eventually (perhaps I will, too, who knows.) They talk of being seduced by the pen. It is easy to see why. It is exciting and fun, but like any other job it does have its issues. Today I am following up with the 10 things I will not miss!

So here are the top 10 things I won’t miss:

1. The anxiety. Just think, if most people make a mistake, worst case the whole company knows. If a reporter makes a mistake the entire circulation gets to read about it the next day. I’ve lain awake many nights stressing about whether I might have made a mistake. And nothing is worse than seeing the little light on the phone indicating a message when you arrive to work. Inevitably it is an angry reader or a source saying you messed something up.

2. Writing for a fourth grader. The English language has some amazing words. Many of which we are not encouraged to use because many readers wouldn’t understand and it is best not to alienate readers.

3. The cynicism. I have my share of conspiracy theories, but there is something about journalism that just piles on the cynicism. We see so much corruption, sadness and evilness that sometimes optimism is not easy to find.

4. The pure sadness and horror. I’ve had many people look at me like I’m evil when I’m looking for information about someone who has died. The truth is journalists aren’t trying to amplify pain for families, but instead let people know who was lost so that we can be supportive. But in doing so, we absorb sadness. I’ve cried over stories more times than I can count. You don’t know how sad the world can be until you read through court documents and see just how cruel other humans can be to each other. Believe me, what we print in the paper is mild compared to the details we have to read through. Horrific. Absolutely horrific

5. The arguments. Most jobs yelling at your boss is a bad thing. In journalism yelling fights over whether a word or its slightly different synonym should be used is fairly common. Is a story meant for the front page? Is the media creating a frenzy or reporting on it? I’ve heard arguments on all those and more (even smaller) issues. In fact, this point will probably start another argument in the newsroom tomorrow.

6. The unending system crashes. I’ve never seen a profession more prone to system crashes than journalism. It is as if the computers KNOW that we are working on a daily deadline and conspire to crash just at the point to make our lives miserable. One time I lost three stories at 6 p.m. and had to rewrite all of them. Luckily I did not lose my notes though! (But shhhh or inevitably in the next couple months I will lose my notes on deadline.)

7. The paycheck. Money probably isn’t polite to talk about, but, seriously, I could make more working as a waitress part time.

8. The maddening way that everyone hates you. Report on any given issue and everyone is convinced that you were skewing it for the opposite side. You missed a meeting because you worked 18 hours on 8 stories the day before? Obviously you were covering up for some government who is conspiring to do something evil. Journalists always say that if both sides hate you, you did your job — but it is a little annoying.

9. Not being allowed to have an opinion. It is good and important for journalists to stay neutral, especially publicly. However it is a little frustrating sometimes that the people that are probably the most informed on issues can’t tell people what we think. We read all the bills, talk to the sources directly, question those in favor and those against. And we work hard to be neutral. Personally, most of the time I can’t make up my mind either way, so I guess it doesn’t matter that much for me. But it would be nice to be allowed. (On a related, but separate note: It is also a difficult job for a single girl who doesn’t want to be single. The only available people I meet are either sources — and thus off limits– or coworkers — also off limits.)

10. The hours. I work a lot of 12 hour days. I also go to work at 6 a.m. or stay till 1 a.m. or both. It all depends on when the story is happening. It is a personal life killer as well as wreaking havoc on my sleep cycle!

Coming tomorrow: 10 things I will love about going back to Amarillo + 10 things I am not as enthused about.

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