Stuff Journalists Do: Six Personality Traits Uniquely Beneficial to Those Who Work in News


It’s no secret that journalists are a strange, strange breed. I drew up a shortlist of qualities that would likely hamper my success in any other profession, but actually work to my advantage in the field of journalism. What would you add?!

• I Look Younger Than I Am. This means people don’t take me seriously. This means they tell me more things than they should a lot of the time. And this makes my stories better. One of the smartest things a journalist can do is cultivate artlessness, I am finding.
 I Hate Dressing Up. In most jobs, my slovenly appearance would be a drag on my success. (I wore a Golden Girls T-shirt and gray tweed slipper things my most recent newspaper job on the regular. No, seriously. I did.) But not in journalism! Take a look around and you’ll quickly realize that journalists are a decidedly unkempt bunch. Plus, weirdly, I’ve noticed that they often have asymmetrical facial features. But onward. Plus, my low-maintenance look makes me more relatable as a reporter, especially in small Oregon towns in which most people wear overalls and grow big, bushy beards. (And not just the men, either!)
• I Get really Irritated By Small Grammatical Errors. (further vs. farther anyone? This hung me up for a good five minutes earlier today.) and I Look Things Up compulsively. Other professions call it anal-retentiveness or pretension. We call it fact-checking! (Now that I’ve said this, I’m sure some smartass is going to point out that this blog entry is riddled with errors. Find one and you get a cookie.)
• My Voice Sounds Kind Of Ditzy On The Phone. I’ve tried for years, with no success, to remedy this. It’s just not happening. See: Item Number One, “I Look Younger Than I am.”
• I Suffer From Middle Child Syndrome. (And, yes, I am a middle child. Smartass.) I am obsessed with the idea that things should be fair at all costs and I get furiously angry when that worldview is challenged. As it turns out, in Real Life, and at most jobs, too, from the sounds of things, nothing is ever fair. But in the newsroom, my fixation with equanimity helps me to avoid editorializing in my stories, and it pushes me to seek out more sources.
• I Will Listen To You Prattle On About Nothing And Actually Enjoy It. I seriously will! I don’t even care if I know the guy you’re talking about, or if the thing he did is even that weird or funny. I just love a story. While listening to others recount useless bits of fluff for hours on end is considered waste of time in almost any other profession, it’s actually in my job description. Plus also, my high tolerance for blithering helps me to keep my mouth shut when there’s even the slightest hope that some juicy tidbit is going to sneak its way out along with the blabber.