I Am Not A Reporter

For a long time now, a heavy burden has been weighing down on me; it is time to slough it off, once and for all. All it takes is the first step, and then the weight is lifted: I am not a reporter. The truth is, I do not know who I am. Right now I am enjoying a cup of coffee and digesting the newspaper, trawling through for job postings, and tidying up a cover letter that never seems to be me. As far back as I can recall, there was always the piece of advice that goes something like, “Do you, because no one else can.”

Its kindred adage is “Go for what you know!” I once had an English teacher in high school who scrawled that in my yearbook. In the last three years, going for what I know has been something of a struggle, for reasons that still seem mysterious. What is so obvious in retrospect can often be cloudy in nuncaspect. (Aside: the word nunc is Latin for the present.) I graduated from a midwestern liberal arts college with a degree in political science, my dad died the next day, got a gig with the American Bus Association, that fell apart after a month, lived in Tel Aviv for nearly six months, took graduate journalism courses at NYU, they kicked me out of the program so I have been striving since… and here we are.

Normally, being that open would feel wrong, but at this point I no longer care. Why wear a mask? I am who I am, if only I knew who that person is, of course. Nothing is hopeless, or inevitable; those seem to be good mantras to hold onto.

The front page of the newspaper of record, as it were, mentions the press conference yesterday in which the president attempted to reassure the anxious public that its government was not “willy-nilly sucking information” from them and declared, in effect, that Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, was a traitor to his country — he did not have to use the word, for denying that he was a patriot said enough. Anyhow, Obama averred that the “balance between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms” may need to be slightly jiggered, or something.

Meanwhile, Egypt continues to smolder. The supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi are settling in Cairo for what correspondent Ben Hubbard dubs “an Islamic Woodstock,” an Occupy-style encampment that surrounds the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. If the military, which is essentially in charge at the moment, thinks it can break this up by force and maintain social stability it is deeply deluded. Looks like it is going to get uglier by the day.

These notes above presuppose that I am a journalist who can “curate” and “analyze” current events, and I think I can do those things, but there is no point in selling myself as if I were some kind of professional. This is more dabbling and experimental, over the past few years now. When I had the honor to walk around the offices at 60 Minutes, I did not feel like a fraud. In fact, I felt like I belonged there. But there was an invisible sign that read No Outlet. At least that is the fear talking. Fear, I have learned, is a hindrance, though useful in some situations.

Enough about me. Tell me about you.

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1 Comment

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One response to “I Am Not A Reporter

  1. You were in Tel Aviv?! Wild. That’s definitely on my list. As is 60 Minutes studios. Also a sweet water park.

    I hear you on the subject of pinning down “who” you and I are. Can’t think of a more troubling uncertainty. I often wonder if many others know who “they” are. They all seem too. In this case, I kind of know who “you” (Alex) are. You are heart and soul. Fire and force. I don’t know if that falls in the profession of “journalist,” but if that’s brew of coffee you fancy, so be it. I know that you will be a fierce journalist, not one who will resign himself to robo-copy-reporting. But one who makes his subjects breathe, editor’s sweat, and who pursues stories to the end of the earth.

    I also believe that you have a great story, but as a curious guy, are not content with just your story: you tirelessly seek out the other stories out there.

    I think that is pretty incredible.

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