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Realities change lifelong dream

May 30, 2012

Pat Evans

Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

Four years ago, I first stepped foot into The State News.

I thought I was starting my dream of a journalism career, even with all the talk of the journalism industry dying.

Now, with just a few months remaining in my time in East Lansing, I’m ready to enter the real world, heading away from newsroom journalism.

I’m happy with my life plan — which still involves massive amounts of writing, just not in newspapers. And as I field questions about why I’m not pursuing a life in newspaper and people giving me the excuse of a dying industry, I just smile.

It’s not because journalism has seen the white light. Far from it. Journalism, writing and reporting will always be around, in one form or another. Trust me, I didn’t change my dream just because some people say the jobs aren’t there.

I changed it for a few reasons, but mostly because people involved — readers and reporters — in the industry bother me.

Many reporters are out to get people, or overreact to the “news.” Often times, reporters and editors force stories out of almost nothing. Really, our jobs should be to tell things how they are and correct misconceptions, not perpetuate them.

Instead of going after the “bad guys” of the world, I often try to understand the imperfections of people — we are all human.

Some people deserve to have their lives ruined, but really not most.

Perhaps I’m not ruthless enough for news, but the same goes for sports.

I can’t stand how athletes are held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Sure, they’re in a spotlight, but just for being athletically gifted — they too make mistakes.

And try being around a room of sports reporters; very few can hold a conversation outside of sports. Many try to flaunt their sports knowledge. There are a few guys out there who helped ease that stereotype, still I couldn’t do a life of just sports.

Although all those things already make journalism life a living hell, readers make it even harder. There will be a commenter online about how horrible this column is for a newspaper. We’re college writers, learning the ins and outs of the business. We’re not perfect, and neither are professionals.

When I was opinion writer, commenters would be ridiculously mean, whether I was stating a fact or an opinion. Just let an opinion be an opinion, and accept facts, don’t be mean to be mean.

Just like I wouldn’t expect to do an economist’s job as well as they do, nor would I criticize them when they make a mistake, I don’t think a journalist should be called out for missing a comma.

Most readers don’t understand the work that goes into a news article, or the variables of who answers and wants to talk, or how long a reporter has to pull together a story. Then there are the readers who, like some reporters, want to bring down the man.

It’s like how many people don’t understand politics and criticize decisions. There is so much that goes on behind closed doors, so many agreements that have to be made.

Sometimes it might be a certain person’s fault, but more often than not, a perfect storm happened to make a political decision the way it is.

I know I’m not ruthless enough to be a journalist, I’m also too balanced. I don’t want to blame one side over another. I want to look at all the facts and too often understand the views of both sides. Ironic, because that should be the role of a reporter.

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When I look at the reasons I don’t want to be a reporter, I shudder. I can’t imagine doing this and handling the things I’ve stated for a very low income on very high hours for the rest of my life.

I love news. I love writing. And I love telling people’s stories. Those facts will never change.

I will continue to tell stories, good and bad, but not to out people. The stories will be meant to help people better themselves. I’ll also encourage readers to understand the news through comments and writing — don’t blow it out of proportion — and that people aren’t perfect, just like you and me.

Pat Evans is the managing editor at The State News and a political science senior. Reach him at evanspa7@msu.edu.

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