I went to school for journalism.
My original plan was to graduate from Brigham Young University and go back to Detroit to work my way up the professional ladder until I either got to cover city government or crime.
But then I met my wife, and I decided I didn’t want to raise kids in Detroit-proper. Like any other grown adult, I altered my dream for the sake of my kids. So, I decided I’d take a swing at doing journalism here.
I graduated from BYU and started submitting applications to job openings where I could find them. I had a lot of phone interviews, some writing samples, some secondary interviews, but no offers for full-time work.
Eventually, I started applying to marketing jobs. I needed the money.
Now, I do that full-time, moonlight doing radio work on weekends and I write these op-eds. It may not be journalism, but at least it’s a proverbial toe in the pool.
This is what adulthood looks like. It’s all of your hopes and dreams slowly dying as you find ways to provide for kids.
At this point, I don’t see myself ever transitioning to journalism full-time. To start anywhere full-time would possibly require a pay cut, or at the very least, worse hours and lower future earning potential.
But I’ll always have a soft spot for journalism and the people in the industry who work long, hard, thankless hours in its service.
I’ll always be a little jealous that they found a way to make it work when I couldn’t.
That being said, in some ways I don’t envy them.
A recent Hill-Harris poll found that one-third of Americans polled believe that the news media is the “enemy of the people.” To break down that poll even further, that’s 50% of Republicans, 14 percent of Democrats, and 35 percent of independents polled, according to the Hill.
Clearly, there are a lot of people who don’t care for journalists.
I’m not going to pretend that journalists are perfect. Like any other profession, it’s probably comprised of 10% really great people, 10% really terrible people, and 80% people just trying to do their job to make ends meet.
But I do think a lot of the hate is undeserved.
Oftentimes, I think people confuse talking heads with journalists and the two aren’t the same. Rachel Maddow, Jay McFarland and Sean Hannity are not journalists. Ashley Stilson, Kelsey Dallas and Jesse Hyde are journalists.
Whether that criticism is deserved or not, I wanted to share a couple of instances that happened recently that may possibly humanize the journalists you may know. The local ones at least.
The first story comes from earlier this week when there were some protests regarding the Inland Port. During those protests, several journalists had been physically hurt because of the growing hostility of the attendees.
In some cases, like that of Taylor Stevens and Katie McKellar, these journalists were just pushed around by virtue of being in the middle of the crowd. In other cases, like that of Matthew Michela, they were assaulted.
This happens fairly often. Journalists regularly find themselves in dangerous situations and are often vulnerable to getting physically hurt while on the job. And unlike others, they’re carrying cameras instead of guns.
The second story comes in the form of a tweet from KUTV’s Morgan Saxton.
“PSA: Please consider allowing morning reporters to use your toilet,” wrote Saxton. “We are stuck in place for HOURS. There are only select businesses open at 4AM. I was just told I couldn’t use the restroom Planet Fitness (without a membership) even if I was President.”
She gets up at 2 in the morning to help get a morning newscast together.
Now, I’m not going to say she’s ever had to discreetly go to the other side of the van because there were no bathrooms in sight. That would be a gross assumption, but I am saying I’m willing to bet money that plenty of journalists nationwide probably have.
I’m also willing to bet that not a single person who started their career in journalism thought it would include avoiding the temptation to do the pee-dance while live on air.
The third story comes from Braley Dodson, who people seem to semi-regularly assume is the secretary for a reporter named Bradley Dodson when she picks up the phone.
I don’t understand why people often assume that reporters will be men instead of women, but I really don’t understand why anyone would think a local reporter would have a secretary.
Whether it’s the threat of physical violence, needing to pee on the side of the road, or being confused for the secretary, journalists nationwide deal with a long list of problems that most people would never think of and get paid squat for it.
So next time you’re thinking about ribbing a journalist because you don’t like their story, remember that they’re people too — people who probably have to pee.