If you haven’t listened to Mike Lawson’s podcast, What Some Would Call Lies, I recommend this week’s episode, even though it’s a fucking Debbie Downer (those were his words, by the way). It was about a city council meeting he had to cover when he worked at a newspaper, and it got me thinking.
I had to cover a hospital board of trustees meeting when I was a reporter in college (our university ran the morning daily for the city, and I sometimes felt kind of bad for the people who subscribed because we were definitely still in training). By the end of the meeting I realized that there was absolutely nothing newsworthy to write about. The guy running the desk that night, a graduate student, told me I’d better start pulling copy out of my ass.
That’s when I realized I wanted to kill every fucking graduate student who was ever an asshole to me. At the Mizzou Journalism School, that would have taken a while.
In any case, I wrote my required copy on how basically nothing happened and it ran in the next morning’s paper. Before I even left the newsroom, I realized I never wanted to be a reporter. That was freeing as well as frightening: I’d wanted to be a reporter ever since my parents mentioned it as something I could do to support myself while I was writing fiction. First of all, while that sounds like a great idea in theory, it just doesn’t work, at least for me, because the last thing I wanted to do once I got home was write any more. Second of all: now what? I had no idea what to do with the rest of my life, and I was almost done with college.
Fortunately, I did keep writing fiction. I also discovered that I was a pretty darn good copy editor and a competent graphic designer. But I realized I would never win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.
I’m okay with that.