Sunday, April 13, 2014

Journalism - Is it worth the stress

Feral horses out on the Bible Springs 
Complex in Iron County.  This photo 
was taken for a story I was working on 
the last two weeks on the mismanagement 
of wild horses on the range.
Well I haven't written on here for a long time. When I started this blog I had really good intentions and high expectations but like so many other things in my life, it has come second to my full-time job as a journalist.

Today as I woke with dark circles under my eyes from not getting enough sleep and an upset stomach from all the stress I've been dealing with lately, I decided today is just as good as any to update my blog.

So I was Googling the other day a search on stress and journalists and I found all kinds of information including the fact that for the last two years news reporters are listed as one of the top 10 most stressful jobs  ranked even above police officers.

Really? You don't have to tell me. Since throwing myself into the newsroom again full time my stress level has skyrocketed into outer space.

Like some of the other jobs listed by journalism consumes a person. The news never stops and as such I never really have a day off.

I rarely eat but instead substitute lattes for breakfast and lunch. I spend late nights and early mornings trading sleep for time to respond to emails, texts, and phone calls - oh and Facebook messages. My days are long and quite frankly it's often thankless.

People are constantly mad at me for one thing or another either because they don't think I wrote the right angle or because I didn't get to write the story they wanted me to and most of the time that's because I was called off one story to go cover breaking news that took priority. But they don't understand that, for them their story is the most important.

People get mad at me because I didn't have enough room to quote them or because they think I quoted them wrong. They get mad because I wrote a story or because I didn't.

I'm constantly under pressure to meet deadlines. In fact, I'm convinced my editors, the copy desk and designers who are all dependent on me to dictate their time clocks, as they don't get to go home until all the reporters are finished, have a picture of my face above their desks saved just for those times they're waiting for my story to come across the network and throw darts at me while they patiently wait.

There's so much more I could go on and on. But really what it comes to down to is, deadlines, pressure, breaking news, getting the top story, finding a new angle for stories that have been rehashed over and over again by other media, a lot of sleepless nights, and no personal life.

Friends? Most of those left a long time ago realizing but not understanding I don't have time to grab a cup of coffee with them, let alone take time to build a relationship.

Then there's family. Many of my colleagues have opted through the years not to have children or even get married because this job is absolutely not conducive to a family.

This is where I often feel like a complete failure and wonder if I've made the right decision in my career. In fact through the years I've stopped working as a journalist because of this very reason. But this time around I decided I had given it up long enough I wasn't going to let my life pass by and not follow my passion.

That said though, it doesn't mean my choice doesn't come without internal conflicts. I often question whether I should be chasing a story or running around the park with my son and grand kids.

I'll be honest too, a couple of my adult daughters don't pass up a chance to tell me how I've fallen short in this area over the last few months when I haven't answered my phone to them because I'm in court, in a meeting, covering an event, on a breaking news scene, in an interview or on deadline.

I get it.

I'm not superwoman and I'm not good at balancing my life nor am I ever willing to walk away and give up a story and they resent it -- they always have -- which is why I chose years ago to give it up then and go home to be a full-time mom.

But I wasn't happy. In fact, I was miserable and I lost myself in that process.

I don't know maybe I should have done something else like become a hairstylist, librarian, teacher or just stayed home and never gone back to work.

But while I admit my job is stressful, it's thankless, and quite frankly it's horrible hours and low pay -- I love being a journalist and at the end of the day I have to believe that maybe I've made a difference and that makes everything else worth it.

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