The media is an exciting field that fuels professionals in the industry. The constant adrenaline rush to break a story. Coursing through the insanity of deadline days. The satisfaction of seeing your byline in print or of reporting TV viewers about the day’s top stories. The instant recognition received in the streets and at public events.
Then there are less-than-glamorous traits of life as a media professional. The burdening pressure to find head-turning headlining stories. The fear of the inability to meet deadline. The array of angry comments from the public on claims the reporter misrepresented facts in a story. The fact that some people would call for a correspondent’s resignation over “irresponsible” journalism.
No matter how you look at it, the day-to-day grind in the media bear certain demands on its professionals. Here are five signs you work in the media.
1. You surround yourself with news sources.
Back issues of various publications clutter your office. Your mobile devices might have apps of news outlets, and timely story analyses and comments stuff your email inbox. You flip through cable news channels to get glimpses of trending stories or watch in-depth coverage through news programs, and read news crawls at the TV screen’s bottom. One sign you work in the media is staying plugged in with the latest news as well as the industry itself and its professionals.
2. You constantly hunt for the Next Big Story.
Everywhere you go, everywhere you do, everyone whom you interact with, you peruse your activities and observations for the Next Big Story. Even when on vacation, you keep a notebook and pen and/or a device with you in preparation to record story ideas. Sure, interacting with other people is a joy in itself. But a sign you work in the media is that concepts spark in your head while speaking with the employee ringing up your morning coffee, your doctor at your medical appointment or your child’s teacher during a parent/teacher conference.
3. Perseverance and curiosity fuel you.
A good reporter has many traits in order to get the job done and right. Two of them are perseverance and curiosity. Anyone whose vocation is to tell a story can say that rejection is sometimes the name of the game. If a story has enough conviction that is deserving of public knowledge and has relevance, nothing but nothing will stop you from bringing that information to light. And what sparks perseverance? Curiosity, or the desire to learn. Asking questions, double checking facts and getting to the bottom of an issue drive you to do your media job the best you can.
4. You work odd hours.
The 24-hour news cycle doesn’t stop for anyone. Another sign you work in the media is that rather than toil the standard nine-to-five job five days a week, your work week revolves around deadlines. You must come to the newsroom and be there (or if you’re working remotely, be available) on deadline days, then take the next day off once the issue is put to bed. You can work 12-hour days for two straight days (eight hours plus four evening hours each), followed by a day off. Sometimes you work on weekends and holidays. This unpredictable schedule can wreak havoc on family and social times.
5. You’d rather not do anything else for a living.
The media industry has its ups and downs. Media conglomerates merge, the pay rate is so-so and reporter is ranked as 2013’s worst job. No matter how insane the week has been, no matter how close the deadline is, no matter how much your supervisor breathes down your neck for a story to run on time, or how much the public rips apart your coverage, you wake up every day acknowledging the media field is your home away from home.