The most recent addition to Stuff Journalists Like :
There was a time when being a journalist mattered. A time when a press pass not only got a journalist past the crime tape but also maybe a free drink on the house, a girl’s number and a little respect.
There was a time when being a journalist meant drinking whiskey in the newsroom. A time when journalists were more concerned about sources and stories than web-updates and blogs. A time when newspapers were king and the biggest worry in the newsroom was filling the news hole. These were times when journalists loved newspapers and newspapers loved them back.
It’s true a bunch of us feel that way, and we didn’t even have the good ol’ days. Save for at The Diamondback in college, when sleeping, drinking and generally walking around in an unshowered mess in the newsroom were frequent occurrences. We got maybe a handful of years in the professional news world before everything crumbled, and kept crumbling quickly.
Let’s not forget one thing: the good old days probably really weren’t that good. Newsrooms used to be overwhelmingly white and male (something they’re still struggling with). Standards and ethics at a lot of publications were lower than they are today (some didn’t even create universal ethics standards until the late 90s or even later). Newspapers were essentially one-way monoliths of information with little interaction from readers outside the letters to the editor page. Lacking competition, there was still a prevalent “eat your broccoli” approach to some of the news reporting.
And, of course, it was the lack of foresight and sense of contentment from earlier newsrooms that helped push the press towards irrelevance today.
Our generation heard tell of the glory days of smoke-filled rooms and clacking typewriters from professors and mentors over the years. My first J school professor at GW, a former NYT reporter, told stories about being in the press pool for JFK when an event the next day was canceled. They all sat up drinking whiskey and getting rip roaring drunk late into the night. When they woke up in the morning, the event was back on, and the president’s people grabbed this professor, put him on a helicopter with Jackie Kennedy and flew his tired mass into the sky for a miserable day of reporting, rotor blades beating a hangover into his head with an unrelenting rhythm.
I couldn’t imagine what they’re telling kids in J schools now. The internet was basically covered in one elective J class at Maryland that was informative but sometimes moved at a glacial pace to accommodate some of the, er, lesser technologically inclined class members. Surely there must be some sort of intensive online reporting classes popping up by now, right?
But in a more hopeful tone, what will people look back on when telling stories about the new media revolution? Nights spent spilling drinks on your iPhone, inhabiting smoke-filled Gchat rooms, trading barbs with the local Sheriff via his Facebook wall, when telling a girl about your blogging would get you laid?