Tuesday, 2 December 2014

5 ways being a journalist is a lot like being a smoker - and 1 way it isn't...

Journalism, like smoking, is an oddly addictive profession that isn't necessarily good for your personal health or the health of those around you. Often unsociable and these days associated with stereotypes of bad behaviour, is it a journalism ban that we most need to see in this country? 

Rebecca Megson lights up the similarities between smoking (which KILLS by the way kids) and journalism...

All the President's Men
- Journos pursuing lies at the heart
of 'democratic' government*
1) The cool and the beautiful do it on the big screen - making it look cool (Hoffman/Redford, journalistic truth-hunters extraordinaire in All the President's Men) and beautiful (a la the iconic smoker Mrs Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Less pretty when's she's OD-ing later but that's off topic...)

2) The first time you try it (smoking/journalism) you can feel quite sick and disgusted by it...

3) ...but before you know it you have an insatiable hunger for the newsroom/next smoke. Your heart races with excitement/stress. The adrenalin is pumping over whether you'll get the story/get caught smoking by your neighbour ('who will tell your mum what you've been up to young lady'). There is a sense of survival.

Mrs Mia Wallace in
90s cult movie Pulp Fiction**
4) As a journalist/smoker you are something of a social pariah, especially amongst professions that mistrust you (TIP: don't go to a party predominantly filled with scientists and/or doctors and admit you are a smoker/journalist unless you are ready for the cold hard stare of 'Oh, well that certainly changes how comfortable I feel about talking to you').

5) There are particular types of smoking/journalism (aka weed/investigative) that will find you locking yourself in a darkened room for days at a time, rejecting friends and family, living off snack foods and paranoia. You vet anyone you speak to for trustworthiness and then (once they pass the test) reveal everything you've found about the latest conspiracy theory.

And one way it isn't....

1) Unlike tobacco, the very best journalism can be a force for good....

For example, CBS aired the first TV news segment alleging links between smoking and lung cancer in 1955 which revolutionised what we knew and thought about smoking//The Guardian broke the first news story into what would become the hacking scandal, revealing the dirtiest and most unwholesome side of journalism imaginable at that time.

And that is what makes journalism a worthwhile career to pursue (and why we shouldn't ban it!)

*All the president's men" by IMPAwards.com. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of All the President's Men (film) via Wikipedia
**Pulp Fiction cover" by The poster art can or could be obtained from Miramax Films.. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Pulp Fiction via Wikipedia

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