Why you need a thick skin to be a journalist

A friend of mine once asked his seven-year-old son what he wants to be when he grows up. The boy did not think twice about it and said, “I want to be a garbage collector!” “Why, of all careers?” a visibly thwarted father asked. “Well, they only work on Wednesdays,” he reasoned. This was just because they only came to collect garbage at his home on Wednesdays, he thought, they worked once a week.

A friend of mine once asked his seven-year-old son what he wants to be when he grows up. The boy did not think twice about it and said, “I want to be a garbage collector!”

“Why, of all careers?” a visibly thwarted father asked.

“Well, they only work on Wednesdays,” he reasoned. This was just because they only came to collect garbage at his home on Wednesdays, he thought, they worked once a week.

When we are young we wish to be many things, Pilots, Doctors, even police officers, but, ‘I want to be a journalist when I grow up’ is not a common phrase we hear from our kids.

It seems kid’s intuition steers them from even thinking about the scorching trade. Like most jobs, journalism has its pros and cons. Some people take this job as extremely interesting, “you meet amazing people. Celebrities and other bigshots, you go places and even the pride in knowing you are providing news to the general public is enough!” They say.

Well, though there’s some grain of truth in that, but being a journalist means so many things. You can be an anchor, reporter, producer, editor, news director, photographer, etc. So many different jobs in this field but the truth is; they are all equally tough and challenging.

Can you imagine a job where there’s no room for mistakes? Where a single mistake can cause a massive damage and even lose of lives? Another thing, as a journalist you are prone to make more foes than friends. You see, sometimes, in order to cover the story fairly and accurately, you will end up upsetting people, even (bad guys) will hate you for writing things about them.

The general public will criticize your work heavily at times, whereas in other jobs your failures are only known around the workplace. People’s opinions of you depend on the stories you write, others will browse through your articles with a magnifying glass looking for only mistakes.

Sometimes you write a great article and the interviewee whom you admire and believe to have represented accurately—calls to complain about the lousy job you did!

News does not pick some particular hour or day to happen, this means a journalist has to be at the necessary place in time. Another thing you probably don’t know, journalists stomach ugly comments everyday! People are far more likely to post something negative than to post something positive.

When I visited my folks after many years I was asked what I did. I replied that I was a journalist.

“Son, you could just go ahead and get a real job, you know,” he advised.

People trust journalists with facts, either the ones they give or the ones they receive. You must not be careless with them. All journalists must aim for accuracy. Without it you will lose trust, readers and ultimately your job.

martin.bishop18@yahoo.com

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