The Joys of Jekyll and Hyde Journalism

 I confess I am a news addict. My first lesson in Media Studies started in 1993 with the words “You must read the newspapers every day.” My question then was “why?” Almost 20 years later I reply “Why on earth not?” Hard news rocks!!

In 1994 as a second year student I watched a film called “The Paper” with Glenn Close and Michael Keaton. There are two things about that film that have stuck with me. The first is the massive fight between the two over printing the truth and keeping the integrity of the newspaper. The other was a photojournalist battling to get a photo of two potential criminals. The photographer fell over and by some miracle got the perfect newspaper photo.

That same year I stepped into a newsroom for the first time and the buzz was like an addictive drug. Until you have been inside one you have no idea what it feels like. For me, I found a place where there is no control on what news comes in. It is a place to hear and see the news before the public and then deciding what to put in the paper within a certain time period. I learnt pretty quickly that a journalist on a tight deadline can be a short tempered meanie and yet two minutes after deadline be a puppy dog.

The pressure of writing good copy, telling the truth and getting it all done within a short time period can be very addictive. Getting it right is the difference between finishing work on a high or a low. Any hard news journalist will tell you – if you cannot take the pressure get out of the fire. The fourth episode of the HBO TV Series The Newsroom shows the stress of reporting the truth and how addictive the feeling can be.  When giving news to a journalist I have always been taught to tell the truth and have a response if the journalist says so what?