On the beauty of reporting*

Here’s a theory I have about reporters: They’re people who get bored easily. First, there’s the evidence that most journalists’ skills actually get worse the more time they have to work on something. (Maybe we’re just master procrastinators.)

“Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.” -Karl Kraus

The other thing is that reporting is a career in which there are absolutely no two days that are alike. Really, there aren’t even two hours that are alike. Yes, maybe some reporters get into the swing of things and the stories start to seem the same, but for those of us who love telling stories, it’s always a thrill to meet new people and tell their stories.

When I think about that in comparison to working in pretty much any other office job, I remember what a great gig it is. Sure, it doesn’t pay well, and the hours are long, and sometimes people yell at you, but it’s exciting and there’s the chance to make a difference.

This is always evident to me, but I was just working on invoicing my stories for May, and here is a real-life (abbreviated) list of topics I’ve written about in the last few weeks:

• the Dalai Lama
• a fish fry
• a private school graduation
• a Navy SEAL who is also an artist
• a mom who survived an avocado-sized brain tumor
• a ban on registered sex offenders in public parks, beaches
• a fundraiser for a family who lost everything in a fire
• a reunion of the birth of modern sport hang gliding

I could go on, but you get the idea. I’ve only been in the industry a few years, but when I think about all the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had that I never would’ve otherwise, it’s pretty incredible.

I’m trying to remember this as fuel for the terrible, dizzying crapshoot of applying and interviewing for jobs. (There’s that and Pandora comedy stations.) If you have any ideas, please share!

* This is much more evident in general assignment reporting than reporting on, say, a city hall, but it applies nonetheless.

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