Monday, 19 December 2011

Painting All Journalists with the Same Brush

Stereotypes are peculiar. They use the attitudes, opinions and actions of a select few individuals as a general analysis of the entire group. Generally speaking, society views stereotypes as a skewed representation of people, yet admit that there's truth in said stereotypes. I bring this up because I read an online article called "5 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Journalist" that was written by Tom Chambers in 2007, which has resurfaced and created a second round of buzz. It acts as a word of caution to potential partners that dating a journalist is completely different than dating someone in any other profession.

Like I prefaced, stereotypes are peculiar. When you tell someone you're a journalist, you'll either be met with polite interest or obvious disapproval. Society has the idea that journalists are self-righteous human beings who believe their intelligence and worldly knowledge makes them vastly superior to that of anyone else. When I've told people I meet that I'm an aspiring journalist, there are two types of "Oh!"'s I receive in response. The first "Oh!" means "Wow, that's interesting!" The second "Oh!" says "Ah, you're one of them, eh?"

With respect to the article I read, the tone for me was extremely off-putting. Take this sentence for example: 

"Guaranteed, when you say “towards,” we will automatically say “toward” — “towards” is not a word. We’re not trying to call you dumb (even though you don’t understand the English language), it’s habit."
It's irritatingly pretentious. The rest of the article continues in a similar air of arrogance. In the comments section (comprised of more than 350 polarized responses) working journalists in print and broadcast disagree with the contents of the article. In no way am I disparaging the opinions of Tom Chambers. It's his journalistic right to write about truth as best it relates to him. I do believe, though, that articles like these perpetuate these types of stereotypes.

Journalists are not mystical creatures with brains two times the size of  the average person. Journalists are, or should be, regular people with extraordinary curiosity. What I do does not make me any more superior to a passionate elementary school teacher, or more important that an accountant who specializes in taxes.

Simply put- you can't paint all journalists with the same brush.

Here's the link to the article: 5 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Journalist

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