1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Shower? No way. I'm on deadline!

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dave Kindred, May 23, 2008.

  1. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    This is a commencement speech given by Cynthia Gorney, a professor in the Cal-Berkeley graduate school of journalsm.

    She's speaking to family, friends, and loved ones gathered on May 17 in the school's courtyard with the 55 graduates on a platform behind her.

    Embedded are her phonetic guides to multi-lingual lines declaring, "You people are great." She was fabulous in the performance thereof.

    I loved it and thought it's worth hearing in these days of existential doubt about what we do.


    So if you’re out here, there’s somebody up there whose wonderfulness you know about. That means you have exactly one-fifty-fifth of an idea how great this group is.

    A few things I want to tell you about these people before I get to the meat of my remarks….

    First of all, I’m not sure they’re actually going to be able to leave here. It’s not us, I hasten to add, and not even this lovely building. It’s each other. These people are just, like—bonded. I’m telling you, it is something to see. When I say they’ve slept with each other, I mean it in the literal way—crashed on the floor, fully clothed, three o’clock in the morning in the edit booth…or slumped over the group house dining table, with the empty limoncello glasses in their hands, the problems of the world hashed out together one more time.

    Second, assuming they do get out…and I guess sooner or later they will…these people are basically walking tiki torches. They are aflame. The news industry out there is a big unruly thrilling set of question marks, we all know that, so we have no idea exactly what they’ll be doing two years from now…re-inventing the industry, we believe. And they will be doing it with passion, I promise you.

    Third, if you could spend a couple hours in the file drawer with all their bios, you would start laughing, as I did the other day, just reveling in the sounds of their voices and how different and alike they are at the same time. LISTEN to this:

    “My passion for seeking truth in an ever-confounding world.”

    “Reporting, to me, is the act of translating experience into words, sounds, and images.”

    “From digging up governmental reports and poring over neuroscience studies, to copyediting and brainstorming headlines, journalism is something I savor from process to product….It is a bridge between countries, communities, and generations of the same family.”

    “I’ve spent some time imagining myself hunched over a computer, with a late night cup of coffee, in North Gate Hall.” Becca? Did you get that right, or what?

    And then there’s always Simmons: “I’d like to continue writing about fish.”

    Anyway. Keep listening:

    “Growing up Mennonite has taught me to value service, and has given me an appreciation for diverse perspectives.”

    “I am interested in covering issues affecting the Ainu people of Hokkaido, Japan, who long experienced racism as a minority in a homogeneous country.”

    “When the crowd attacked me and grabbed my notebook, I was terrified, shocked, and proud at the same time.”

    “My interest in journalism was first sparked when I was admitted to the Statgymnasium, a humanitarian school in Germany with a strong emphasis in liberal arts, and here I studied Latin, French and English in addition to the general curriculum in German.”

    I have a special appreciation for the United Nations nature of this group, as they know, because fully one third of my first-semester reporting class was first-rate journalists whose spoken English, while…eloquent…was not yet exactly standard California American when they arrived…and yeah, Santana from the Bronx, I’m including you. So here’s what I have to say to all of you…. just bear with me, now, and if I blow it really badly, try not to fall off your chairs laughing:

    SiETTE un GRUPpo fanTAStico.

    TA nur bol gaiham shyhg-TEH huunduud.

    Atem mea ahuz­.

    Ni men GAI luh.

    YoroBUN hullyUNG HAM-ni-da

    AHN tuhm tohLAHB MOJ taHÉ DUN wa MUHM tazhOON…

    Ustedes son una maravilla! and…

    Word UP and MAJOR PROPS, my homies. you are WICKED off the HOOK.

    So I’m really hoping that in Italian, Mongolian, Hebrew, Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, and Bronx hip hop, what I just said was some version of, “you people are great”…and if what I actually said was “You people are bacterial illnesses,” please blame me and not my various patient tutors out there.

    But let me proceed now to the substance of my discussion, which is directed at you, who have done so much to support these great people, and may be wondering what to DO, now that you have more or less in your possession…a journalist. I have recently been consulting my colleagues, as well as my husband, children, brothers and father, all of whom have quite a bit of practice at this, and have compiled a small instruction manual we think may be of use to you. This comes under the general heading of: The Care and Feeding of Your New Journalist.

    1. Under normal circumstances, your journalist will not require bathing and brushing. Your journalist should be able to perform these functions without help. However, it is quite typical for journalists to enter a cyclic disruptive period known as “On Deadline.” At these times it may be necessary to aid your journalist by waving a toothbrush in front of the computer screen, pointing out the location of the shower, hanging a clean T shirt over the back of the chair, etc.

    For futher guidelines on managing “On Deadline,” please see Section 12B, “Dealing with the Monosyllabic Barked Phone Greeting,” (as in: “WHAT!?????”) …Section 16C, “The Fluid Dinner Reservation” (as in, “I’ll be there just as soon as I tie up this last graf”)….and Section 18A, Teaching Yourself First Aid. (This item was proposed by my daughter, who is now a fine young woman and likes to point out—unfortunately, this is true—that when she was small, I had a sign that occasionally went up on my home office door and read “BLOOD ONLY.” She asked me once whether broken bones counted, and I said only if the bone was sticking through the skin so there was blood. She’ll be taking her Emergency Medical Technician exam next month, thank you very much.)

    2. Your journalist will respond positively, in nearly all situations, to one of the following verbal cues:

    “Darling, it’s brilliant.”

    “You’re so right, [fill in the blank], now get back to work.”

    This one requires certain situational adjustments, as in:

    “You’re so right, it’s never been this hard, now get back to work.”

    “You’re so right, it’s impossible to imagine what you were thinking when you said this story was a good idea, now get back to work.”

    “You’re so right, editors think they were put on earth to stomp out your poetry, now get back to work.”

    “You’re so right, reporters think they were put on earth to whine about their poetry, now get back to work.”

    3. If you are in love with your journalist, it would be really, really great, no pressure here but just, you know, really great, if you could get a job with health benefits.

    4. If your journalist asks you to watch something called a “rough cut,” or an “assembly,” it means your journalist is a documentarian, and you must prepare your response in advance. If you’ve ever been involved in house construction, what you will be seeing is sort of like the building crew backing a big truck up to your driveway and dumping out all the lumber and wiring and tile and plumbing parts and beautiful carved mouldings, and stacking them up on top of each other and then standing back sort of scratching their chins and contemplating them. So here is what you say, once the video showing has concluded:

    “Darling, it’s brilliant.”

    5. Do not buy your journalist a coffee maker as a housewarming present. It is NOT that your journalist doesn’t drink coffee. Your journalist likes coffee very much. It is rather that if your journalist is a freelancer—and in the modern era this of course includes writing articles, blogging, producing video, producing news aggregate sites, producing radio, producing fabulous new media combinations of all of these things…anyway, walking to the coffee shop once a day may be the desired guarantee that your journalist, at some point before nightfall, puts on pants.

    6. If you yourself happen to be, like those of us up here, a—I was going to use the word geezer, but let’s just say not exactly a new journalist—YOUR journalist speaks a somewhat different language, and here I don’t mean Korean or Mongolian, I mean what we used to call newsroom language.

    This is of course because the industry as we know it is exploding into about ninety zillion tiny bits and pieces that are all now in the cosmos falling down randomly and rearranging themselves over our heads in the MOST interesting and unexpected ways, and these people are all going to be our bosses within about five years, which is a sort of terrifying and thrilling prospect, but the point is, YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR JOURNALIST IS SAYING half the time.

    “Twittering” and “tweeting.” This means using a social network to report a story…and if you’re having a hard time envisioning that, all I can say is, I’m with you, comrade. “Chimping.” This is a photographer word that comes from what must be done with the digital camera….

    7. At unpredictable intervals, your journalist is going to walk in the door with the flaming eyeballs and say things like, “Post traumatic stress disorder and virtual reality technology!” Or, “Home funerals!” Or “Life-threatening workplace safety violations!” or “Sicilians rising up against the Mafia!” or “Central American immigrants, and this one town in Maine!” or, “This internationally-admired Cairo-based imam who’s an Anglo former hiphopper from Oklahoma!”

    And this will be, like, six weeks after your journalist walked in completely excited about something completely different, and the invisible surface that passes for your journalist’s desk is already stacked up with the background reading about urban education and ballroom dancing and Italian Gypsies and earthquake geology, and you are going to think, what is this, a kind of professional ADD? And the answer is: YES. That’s EXACTLY what it is. That’s why it’s so much FUN.

    We prefer to think of it as an ongoing liberal arts education, a license to climb right into one interesting place and subject and set of people after another…or… to cite once again the remarkable Eric Simmons—whose practice hockey stick, I have to say, has been stored in my office for the last two years when not in use whacking things around in the courtyard, and I’m telling you now that I do NOT plan to give it back…anyway, as our Mr. Simmons wrote in HIS application essay: “When you can come in every day and learn something new, and become an expert in something like California rockfish regulations, you’ve got the best job in the world.”

    7. When your journalist sits up in bed at 2:00 in the morning and says, EXPLETIVE! and grabs the phone to call the city desk, the way that editor did during this last season of the HBO series The Wire, do not wonder if you made a mistake, after all, dumping that accounting major you went out with in college. Your journalist is having a little….moment…that is a GOOD THING…not for your sleep, but for ALL of us. Your journalist is freaking out about maybe having made a mistake. Did I transpose those numbers? Did I remember to double-check that? Was I careful enough? Did I think it through adequately? Am I sure it’s right? Did I explain it so it was clear, and memorable for others? Was I fair?

    This is because your journalist is, fundamentally, part of the foundation upon which this democracy rests. Not to get too worked up about it or anything. But it’s true. And in case you’re having some trouble at present understanding who’s a journalist and who’s not, well, we ALL are having this trouble, since the internet has opened channels of infinite reach to anybody who knows how to turn on a computer. But I have finally stopped worrying about the old “blogger vs working reporter” divide and decided instead to concentrate on the ways a journalist works, rather than the venues.

    Your journalist is a reporter, which means the thing that matters most is getting the information, seeing the place, listening to the people…doing that first hand, and honorably, and carefully, and with total attention to getting everything right…and then telling that story, or showing it, or recording it, or all three at once--so it sticks, and helps somebody else understand something new.

    That is HUGE.

    So repeat to yourself, at 2:00 in the morning: You’re so right, you’ve plighted your troth to a tiki torch, now get back to sleep. But first! …...Count your blessings.
  2. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Re: Forget to shower? You're a journalist 'on deadline'!

    Thanks Dave. Good stuff.
  3. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Re: Deleting my own topic. Sorry.

    Too bad. It was pretty damn good.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Re: Deleting my own topic. Sorry.

    Wear sunscreen.
  5. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

  6. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    That was awesome. Thanks for sharing this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page