It’s been about 13 years since I left my job at CBC Radio. In that time, I haven’t really talked in any great detail about why I left. If people asked, I would simply say it was time for a change. And indeed that was true.
Reading an article in one of the local papers yesterday, I was reminded of the core reason I needed that change. When I reflect on it now, I realize it didn’t really have a lot to do with the particular media organization I worked for. Yes, there were issues there, but nothing that was unbearable. What I think had become unbearable to me was of a more general nature…the negative energy that surrounded me and emitted from me as a journalist.
To be a good journalist, you need to be curious. A healthy dose of skepticism is also crucial. But you need to have empathy too. You need to let yourself to see and celebrate the good in people. You need to allow your heart to open up a bit. And for some reason, that’s something some reporters find difficult to do. Somehow, doing so is considered ‘soft’. They’re criticized by co-workers for losing their edge, or their objectivity. It’s far easier for journalists to cultivate their cynical side. They start to believe that everyone and everything has an ulterior motive. They become bitter and twisted. I saw that in people around me. I saw it in myself. And I didn’t want to be that way anymore.
As for the newspaper article that prompted this blog entry, I suspect that there’s nothing I could say to this reporter that would change her thinking. In fact I believe it would only make things worse, as I would be accused of being a spindoctor. But you know what? Sometimes, an apple really is just an apple. And sometimes it’s OK to not try to turn it into a sour apple tart.