Being a writer and being a journalist are not the same things. I love to write. I’m not so keen on journalism. Below is a piece I wrotethree years ago. It still applies today.
I love writing for my local papers. I’ve met dozens of new people, received fabulous freebies (woo hoo!), and the work keeps me writing all of the time. The problem with writing for a newspaper is that everyone assumes you’re a journalist. Well I’m not. I’m a writer. Trust me, there’s a difference.
First, I’m not a photographer. When I show up at events where other media is involved, they have their big, black high definition telephoto lens cameras and start snapping 15 pictures/second. Not me. My 7.2 megapixel Sony Cyber Shot comes with me. The little red flash indicator light blinks 36 times while the flash adjusts, allowing just two photos per minute. My camera fights in my pocket…and it’s metallic blue. I do the best that I can when I take pictures, but I always feel bad for the people who rely on me to make them look good in the paper. I’m sorry.
Second, I’m not trained to report – I’m trained to show, not tell. It takes a lot of concentration to keep things so brief and to the point. While it might be nice to know all of the juicy bits of the Chairpersons rant, I really only need to present the facts. Present them in short sentences. Use short sentences with small words. Oy.
Finally, I don’t have a killer journalistic instinct. If you don’t return my phone call, I’m not going to hunt you down until I get my quote. I’ll just find someone else. I don’t want to dig into your life – I just want to know why you’re doing this news worthy thing. I don’t really want to talk to everyone at the luncheon – I just need the facts so I can start writing.
So you see, I’m not a journalist. I’m a writer who’s doing some…journaling?…because I love to write, and I love getting to know my community. So please, don’t laugh at my camera.