Know Thy Journalist

Recently, I stumbled upon Tom Chambers’ “Five Things You Need to Know Before Dating a Journalist.” Chambers cuts right to the bone, capturing the mindset of many journalists using some, shall we say, colorful language. I know this because I was one before fleeing to the world of public and investor relations.

At this point in my career, I may not have to date them, but I certainly have to deal with them on a daily basis. I understand these creatures of media, and to help our clients understand them a little bit more, below are some of Chambers’ musings.
 

  1. We can figure things out. Understand, we’re paid to dig deep, find the secrets and wade through *&%$#. We can pick up on subtleties, so what you think you are hiding from us won’t be hidden for long. … We spend all day separating fact from fiction, listening to PR cronies and dealing with slimy politicians. If you make us do the same with you, you’re just gonna piss us off.
     

  2. At some point, you will be a topic. Either through a feature story or an opinion column, something you do or say will be a subject. Get over it. Consider it a compliment, even if we’re arguing against you in print…
     

  3. Yes, we think we’re smarter than you. In fact, we know it. Does that smack of ego? Absolutely — but that confidence is what makes your heart go pitter-patter. … Guaranteed, when you say “towards,” we will automatically say “toward” — “towards” is not a word. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand the English language), it’s habit. The same will happen when you say “anxious” when you mean “eager” and when you answer “good” when someone asks how you are doing.
     

  4. You’re not less important than the job — the job is just more important than anything else. One doesn’t become a journalist to sit in an office from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. We do take our work home. If news is happening, we’ll drop whatever we’re doing — even if it’s with you — to cover it.
     

  5. You won’t be disappointed. Journalists are intense, driven, passionate folk. We carry those same attributes into our relationships, making it an extremely fun ride well worth the price of admission. … Our brains are a great resource. Ever go on a date with an attractive person and wind up wishing you hadn’t because everything they say is just, well, stupid? That’s not going to happen here.

 

Ron Neal, rneal@pondel.com
 
 

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