The Life of a Newspaper Journalist

When most people think of a newspaper journalist, they may envision images of reporters such as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with surreptitious informants, or at the very least, images of obscure figures in fedora hats lurking about waiting for some misfortune to befall in which they can impart to the rest of us with relish. As romantic as all this sounds, it is not the usual day to day grind of a typical newspaper journalist albeit there are usually varying degrees of investigative reporting.

An average day in the newsroom regularly begins with a meeting with the editor. This is after the reporter, who has more often than not, combed through all other competitive circulations or other sources for any newsworthy information that could have happened while off duty. During the meeting, this as well as other relevant issues will be discussed.

After the briefing, the journalist is then ready to approach the workday with vigor and without pause. On any given day, this will entail of duties such as working in the field conducting interviews, attending press conferences and events, as well as being on the look out for building or breaking new stories and performing research and background checks. It is also of utmost importance to check the accuracy of any facts given by sources and to build and maintain a database of trustworthy contacts.

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The daily workload can vary according to whether the publication is daily or weekly. Also, if the reporter works for a smaller paper, he may then be expected to double as a photographer, work with the layout designers and answer the phones when working inside. All in all, there are no two days the same in the life of a journalist.

If this sounds challenging and exciting, it must be emphasized that journalism is not so much an occupation as it is a personality and is definitely not for the faint of heart. The average person will have a tough time adhering to the strict deadlines and exhausting pace while maintaining all ethical standards.

As the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "A journalist is a grumbler, a censurer, a giver of advice, a regent of sovereigns, tutor of nations. Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." I think most would agree.

Copyright Paul Bloore 2009