As a journalist-turned-media critic, it is time for me to come clean about something: the average citizen’s stereotype of reporters is no longer accurate.
When you think of a newspaper reporter, what comes to mind? Well, I have bad news: most of the usual stereotypes have to be replaced, I’m afraid. Or at least that is the case with me.
Let's look at some of the stereotypes.
Stereotype: Reporters wear fedora hats, like in the movie The Front Page.
Reality: I have a fedora, but only wear it for Halloween. The only hats I have seen in newsrooms in recent years are baseball hats, and that's on casual Fridays.
Stereotype: Reporters have a flask filled with alcohol in a desk drawer.
Reality: In place of alcohol at work, I had water bottles constantly on or near my desk as I tried to do my body a favor and drink six bottles of water daily. I had granola bars and fruits for snacks. I bet you never saw Lou Grant drinking water and eating a banana for breakfast, but that's my common fare in the morning. And Mr. Grant would definitely not be happy to see other reporters eating salad for lunch.
Stereotype: They have a coffee cup constantly in hand.
Reality: When I needed a jolt of caffeine, I chose chocolate or Dr. Pepper. Many reporters drink hot or iced tea, which is not exactly something you would expect after watching a good movie like The Paper. There are still some reporters and editors drinking coffee, but they are part of a dying breed.
Sterereotype: The reporters use an old typewriter with which all rules about ergonomics are violated.
Reality: Many are on Macs and laptops these days. Makes one wonder what a journalist of yore would think of a blue computer with an apple on it. Ed Murrow would probably respond by tossing it into a trashcan.
Stereotype: Reporters and editors smoke pipes and cigarettes.
Reality: Most reporters I know just say no to nicotine. A few still smoke but they have to go to designated smoking areas to do so.
Stereotype: Reporters and editors shout “rewrite!” when they get a big story.
Reality: Now when someone wants a reporter to rewrite a story, there is no shouting. No, the editor uses the mouse to send a story back to the reporter. Exciting, no?
Sorry to break the stereotypes. If it helps, we remain as cynical as ever.
Your Constant Reader