Hard Life of Journalists

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Hard Life of Journalists
Journalism as a Career
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Journalism is a Hard Life

What sort of people are journalists?  What qualities and qualifications do they possess?

If you accept the picture so often given on the movie or television screen, newspapermen are hard-bitten, rude, hat-wearing, shouting people who unravel crime mysteries, call their editor "Chief, and seem to have unlimited expenses. Beware of that picture.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes a journalist as "one whose business is to edit or write for a public journal". That's all.

Journalism is a hard life. It can be exciting, but it can be sometimes boring. It can be frustrating, too. It can be demanding and so make it difficult or impossible for you to do a lot of things that other people do in their spare time (1). It can separate you from your family for a great amount of your time; some journalists see their school-going children only at weekends. It can cut you off from a good deal of social life with your friends, and it can make it almost impossible for you to know when you will be free and what time you will have to call your own.

Despite this, those who are journalists can imagine few ways of life that are more rewarding, despite the drawbacks and frustrations of their profession. Most sub-editors, particularly night sub-editors, lead a hard life, shut off from personal contact with the outside world; but many of them have been reporters and have known the thrill of meeting important people and of writing a good story - the excitement of being a journalist.

To be a good journalist you must have a great deal of curiosity. You must like people and be interested in what they do, you must be able to get on easy and friendly terms with men and women of all sorts, however much they may differ from each other or from you. Journalism is no place for the shy person who finds it difficult to talk to strangers. He must be able to write, not necessarily at the standard of great writers, but in a simple and lucid fashion and, above all, quickly, and in short sentences which convey concisely what is meant.

A reporter is responsible to his chief of staff. He is told to refer matters which involve decisions to the chief of staff.

But the chief of staff is not with him when he is reporting the proceedings of Parliament or some meeting; not with him when he is interviewing an important person; not with him when he is reporting an event involving loss of life, a bushfire or a flood. There the reporter is on his own, with nobody to turn to for advice. There he has to make his own decisions and shoulder responsibility.! A good journalist is not easily rebuffed. He must have a good deal of self-reliance and push and energy and initiative. ^ If you think you can measure up to these standards try to take up journalism as a career.


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