Tuesday , May 28 2024
One of three stories reflecting on journalism, my profession until recently.

Stereotypes of Newspaper Reporters

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.

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.

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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