Fifteen years ago, when I was “bumped” from being wire editor at The Sudbury Star back to reporting, I was terrified. Other than writing an occasional column, I had spent two decades behind a desk, assigning stories, telling reporters how to write them and editing the results.
It was grueling but, for the most part, safe work. I didn’t have to ask strangers what they thought about issues. I didn’t have to shove through a gaggle of reporters to get a quote from a politician or pester a family whose loved one had been killed and ask how they felt.
That changed after a four-month lockout at The Star when a shakeup in the newsroom forced me to choose between returning to reporting and unemployment. I chose the former, grudgingly.
Don’t let journalists’ bravado fool you. Some are as arrogant and opinionated as they seem, but many wrestle with self-doubt and worry about getting it right. We’re sorry our words hurt people sometimes and we don’t sleep well some nights. It’s hard work, trying to understand subjects with which you are not familiar, writing and rewriting to deliver a message in a way people understand.
So it was with trepidation I returned to the job I had wanted to do all my life but had had little recent experience with 15 years ago.
The desire to be a reporter started in Grade 8 when my teacher asked me what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I didn’t know. He suggested I consider journalism. I had three of the prerequisites. I loved to ask questions, lots of questions, I had an insatiable curiosity and I could string a few sentences together well. It seemed a perfect fit.
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