Journalism is one of the most hated professions in the world, but not by the people who do it.
The people who write your news are passionate, whether it’s about storytelling, meeting people, being a watchdog, writing or just staying informed about what’s happening around them.
Journalists are passionate.
If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be doing a job that is notorious for layoffs and relatively low-pay.
No one would willingly subject themselves to the daily vitriol of commenters, if it weren’t for an inner drive, something that tells them this is what they should be doing – something that keeps them from taking that high-paying PR job with the normal hours.
Commenters on social media regular react aggressively to a headline without reading a story. They’ll assume the story’s agenda before they even read the eighth word written. They’ll attack reporters as people, not just as journalists, because there’s no way someone who disagrees with themselves could also be a family person, a thoughtful person, perhaps even their neighbor.
There’s a lot of beef with “the media” right now and rightfully so. There are news outlets that serve only to offer up clickbait headlines that will shoot to the top of newsfeeds. There are news outlets that openly choose one candidate over another time and time again in their coverage. There are news outlets that simply don’t care to be connected to their community. I try to tell myself those are “the media”.
I am a journalist. I am a local reporter working for the paper that covers the area where not only I live, but where my parents, my pastor, my best friends’ parents, my high school teachers all live.
When I sit down to write or share a story, when I talk with colleagues about the stories they’re working on, I’m not doing it as an outsider. I’m not a mythical media monger who serves to feed the beast and go home disconnected at the end of the day.
I live these stories, both those I write and those written by the people with whom I share a workspace.
People sometimes ask me if I ignore the commenters. I don’t. If there’s an ounce of reason in what they’re saying (because we all know some people just want to troll), I try to engage. I want people to know that I am hearing what they’re saying and I want to take responsibility for the conversation I’ve started.
Journalists don’t ask to be hated, but nobody does.