Journalists get a bad rep—a lot. There’s a lot of finger pointing and blame going around when there is doubt about whether a journalist has shown the full story. The fact is journalism is hard, especially in a climate where the era of the citizen journalist is on the rise and those who receive their degrees are competing with virtually anyone with a smartphone or computer. While reporting can become richer due to the input from citizen journalists, it certainly blurs the line between subjectivity and objectivity. It also blurs the line of what standards journalism can be held to. That being said, there are numerous journalists fighting the good fight and here are the things you should never say to them.

1. “Can you send me your raw materials?”

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This is not because journalists are stingy, this is because that is a journalist’s work. Journalists have worked to build a story and if you’re the subject, you’re going to want the story you want to be put out there, unfortunately, that story isn’t always the truth. So you can’t have the work that journalist get paid so little for to spin a version of the truth.

2. “I hate the media.”

Please tell me what the media means? Are you talking about mainstream media? Are you talking about the media you chose to follow or read? Are you talking about the news agenda and newscasts you see on television?

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[Photo credit: Giphy]

The blanket statement does not work and when you say that to a journalist, you’re telling them you hate their job and their work, it’s pretty insulting. Not every journalist loves all facets of their jobs, but the ones who remain journalists do it because the love to report a good, compelling, truthful story that someone does not have the capability to do for himself or herself.

3. “Here’s the story to be published.”

If you’re the subject of a profile you do not get to write the story and send to a journalist to publish, you send that to your PR team and let them deal with it. For many reasons, sending a journalist the story you want to be published about yourself is wrong. First any foremost, it is plagiarism. Second, it’s not the truth. Third, you’re not a journalist and if you are, it’s not ethical. Fourth, a journalist is not your employee, i.e. you are not paying them. You have the right to review a story for accuracy and accuracy alone.

4. “How much do you get paid?”


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‘Not nearly enough,’ is the answer for many journalists who put their personal lives on hold to report the feel good and serious stories you share on social media. Most journalists starting out can make as little as $10,000-$12,000 a year, and they do it because they love shining a light on stories that need it and giving a voice to those who deserve it. It’s a field you join because you love your job, not the money.

5. “Make me look good!”

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This is not reality television—it’s not a journalist’s job to make you look good, it’s their job to tell all facets of a story or at least acknowledge the other side.

6. “The news is too depressing, so I don’t watch it.”

That means you aren’t informed and that’s on you. This is a business like every other field, ratings do play into what the news agenda will be. As viewers respond to stories asking for more or don’t respond at all to a piece, it dictates what gets covered. If you’re not following the weekend news, then you’re missing out on the human-interest pieces. If you consume your news via social media, then follow the news you want. Being informed is crucial to intelligent conversation.

7. “Why did you join a dying field?”

Again, what normal person asks someone that?

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The industry is in the middle of one of the biggest changes it’s ever seen, everything is going digital and if journalists are to compete they have an exciting opportunity to learn new skills. It’s not a dying field, it’s an evolving one.

8. “Why was that a headline?”

Journalists have seconds to minutes to come up with a headline that will grab attention and is SEO approved. There’s a science behind story headlines and unless they are completely offensive, there’s no reason to question the headline choice.

*On the note of objectivity, I am a journalist and the above points are a culmination of experiences several journalists have relayed. There are some journalists who lie and abuse power, this article is not about them. It is about those fighting the good fight to report the stories they believe in.