1. The more pushback there is, the better the story will be
In its truest form, good journalism inherently puts you at odds with the people in power and often creates dissonance between yourself and your leaders due to objective reports of their triumphs and failures. Sometimes people will push against you with all their power to prevent you from printing a story, going so far as to lie to you about whether or not they are in their office or having their receptionist hang up on you.
It doesn’t stop you, though. Knowing the story needs to be told makes it worth it to run into the stone wall people will try to build in your path. There’s nothing more worthwhile in journalism than climbing over that wall and watching your story play out in the world before you.
2. There are gray areas in almost everything
Discerning between right and wrong is something I really had to face in a professional setting this year. I wasn’t facing ethical dilemmas in deciding what I would do, but facing instances where I was deciding what information to publish. That’s the gray area, specifically in journalism. It’s not about you anymore; it’s about whether or not writing something will do more harm than good.
3. Deciding who to trust is hard, so trust your gut instead
People will take advantage of your platform; people will take advantage of their own platforms as well, and you need to be aware of that. You have to pay attention to other people and you have to trust what your heart is telling you because your instincts are one of the only things you have in your tool belt.
4. Ask all of the questions you know you should
All of them. The mean ones. The hard ones. The small ones. The big ones. If you’re sitting in a room with a politician, ask them the questions about the contradictions in their policies. People will answer the questions they wish you asked them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask the hard questions anyway. You’ll regret it if you don’t and you’ll long for the quote that you could have had if you hadn’t chickened out.
5. Sleep is not for the weak
Coffee is not a supplement to sleep, and you shouldn’t act like it is. Sleep is not for the weak, and it’s not just something to catch up on during the weekends and the breaks that never come. Sleep is for the people who don’t have a meltdown while trying to do their French homework, the people who only have one cup of coffee in a day and the people who don’t lose hope after 5 p.m. In journalism and all other professions, you have to take care of yourself first.
Kaylie McLaughlin is the assistant news editor for the Collegian and a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.