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The “Why journalism?” question

Recently, I’ve been asked by several people — job-shadowing teens, co-workers, friends, sources, strangers — “Why journalism?”

I always spout off a half-dozen reasons I love my job, love my beat, love this business.

In thinking about it, I’ve come up with a single line that I think kind of sums up what’s at the heart of my desire to do this. It incorporates everything, my love of meeting new and interesting people, being the first to know, seeking out answers to my questions, getting out information important to people’s lives and trying new experiences.

Here’s what I’m telling people keeps me doing this: “I get to experience things that most people, literally, only get to read about.”

So, guys, how do you answer the “Why journalism?” question?

7 Responses to “The “Why journalism?” question”

  1. Daniel Victor Says:

    Good question, and I like your answer a lot. I’m doing a career day Friday so I really need to think about this.

    Off the top of my head, I’d say:

    1) Because every day is different

    2) Because I love coming into the office in the morning and having absolutely no idea what my day will be like

    3) Because everyone you talk to is passionate about something, and being in the proximity of it gives you a little taste of their passions.

  2. TeachJ Says:

    I once got to sit in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle while they fired a live Tow-II guided missile downrange. I’ve talked to the quarterback of my local NFL team. I’ve interviewed the governor of Texas. I’ve eaten 12 different types of barbecue in one hour. I’ve walked into and out of a maximum security prison. I’ve video tapped the entire III-A state football championship game. I’ve been in a college football player’s house on NFL draft day when the Superbowl champions drafted him in the second round. I’ve talked to the family of a man who was rescued from and electric line by a passing stranger.

    What did you do today? Working in Journalism/Media is the hardest job you’ll ever love.

  3. Nick Says:

    Because I would shrivel into a tiny ball and die if I weren’t a journalist. (Read: passion) I honestly never, well, rarely, look at my workplace as “work” on a day-to-day basis.

  4. Meranda Says:

    @Daniel — I started thinking about this when I gave a presentation to a bunch of middle-schoolers about my “career” as a “newspaper reporter.” I especially like your #3. It’s something I’ve never thought of that way before, but an awesome take on the people we encounter.

    @TeachJ — I met the Governor of my state my first week on the job. I didn’t think anything of it until my mom called me the next day and was like, “DID YOU MEET THE GOVERNOR?!” She was all proud and telling her co-workers. And what did I do today? I worked on a story about a local art installation taking shape at an area school, oh and I live-blogged and wrote two stories for tomorrow’s paper about Chelsea Clinton speaking here. It’s an interesting job, for sure. And you hit on a key point… it’s a hard job, but for your hard work you get repaid in unforgettable moments.

    @Nick — I’m not sure I’d shrivel in a ball if I weren’t doing this. But I do know I’d miss it immensely, just the unpredictability of it all (which Daniel hit on) if I weren’t out pounding the pavement and finding interesting stories every day. While I realize it’s “work,” sometimes more than others, I also can’t think of any other thing I’d enjoy doing as much. Basically, I’m getting paid to meet interesting/passionate people, have amazing experiences and write compelling stories. I can definitely dig that.

  5. V. Says:

    I usually say pretty much the say thing you say. I often add that I’m only a journalist because I don’t think I’m creative enough to come up with fictional stories to write so I choose to write about what really happens. But yeah, that’s really it – we’re lucky enough to experience things others can only read about (even if sometimes they’re not the most pleasant experiences, they’re still experiences…). Also, there’s no room for routine in our days. :)

  6. Charles Says:

    Because I like making mischief by asking questions that might expose new facts. I was like that at school.

  7. Liz Says:

    I have the same reason you have. Because I get to do things only people read about!

    I was thinking that when I was eating dinner at the Forbidden Palace with Donatella Versace and Jet Li a few feet away. I was thinking that when I was asking Patrick Dempsey questions about his movie. I was also thinking that when a disabled community thanked me for my coverage on their woes.

    A lot of times it is extremely surreal.

    I certainly appreciate the chance to indulge in my passions and get paid for it. How many people get that lovely opportunity? Sure, I don’t get paid as much as my high-flying executive friends, but job happiness + good money management can get you places ;)