I was surprised when I entered the movie theater to find it nearly full. I figured by now, anyone who’d wanted to see “The Post” had already seen it. It came and left theaters in what little of a year we’ve already had. I was only catching it at the end of February because it was being screened as part of the Oscar Week Marathon series at Century Napa Valley.
The Oscar Week Marathon has been a tradition of mine for the past few years. Cinemark theaters screen the Best Picture nominees throughout the week leading up to the Academy Awards telecast. I make a schedule so that I can see any nominees I didn’t catch yet, which is typically most of them. And you can’t beat the price. Up to nine films for $35 – it’s a steal.
Plus a discount on popcorn? Count me in!
Typically the weeknight showings of the Oscar films aren’t very well attended, so I didn’t see the need to get there early. When I found myself taking a seat in the front section of the theater, I had to scan the crowd around me. Who are these people? Are these folks fans of film or fans of history? They couldn’t be fans of journalists, could they?
When Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham tells editor Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, to run the story about the Pentagon Papers, despite the potential legal ramifications, people in the theater clapped. There was even a “wooo.”
Journalism isn’t for the faint of heart. People typically aren’t moved to “wooo” when they read your work. Like most jobs, you don’t get many thank yous, and reporters learn early on that you’d better have a thick skin because public criticism will crash upon you in the most unexpected ways. Getting painted as liars, crooks, lackeys, and proprietors of fake news just comes with the territory.
One of my mentors told me to keep a “kudos” folder in my email inbox to tuck away any messages of praise I might receive because there will be few, but what those people take the time to write will keep a fire for telling the news alive when everyone else is testing you, your skills and your integrity.
This summer marks my 10-year anniversary in the newspaper business. When I was in college, a professor told me on the first day of class that if I didn’t feel the need to be a journalist in my bones, then I should find a new program. He said newspapers were dying and that it was best for any aspiring reporter to abandon ship while there was still time. The name of that class was “Information Gathering on the Internet”.
I didn’t leave the classroom even if I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a reporter on a cellular level. But I knew that I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to tell the truth. And I wanted to be the one to find the information people needed and present it to them in a clear, concise and potentially entertaining fashion.
I’ve been practicing journalism for 18 years and been a paid media professional for nearly a decade, and I still love it. No regrets.
Last week, I got an email from a reader who thinks my work and the work of my colleagues is a “dogpile” – as in feces.
The reader – possibly former reader – is welcome to his opinion. I’m sorry he felt so disappointed with our product that he felt the need to say something, but we can’t please everyone. That isn’t our job.
Our job is to gather information that will give the public a sense of what is going on in the world around them. We deliver it without bias. We have opinions – everyone does – but readers have the right to make up their own mind about things. We’re just lighting the way so that you can draw your own conclusions and make the choices that best suit your life.
And if your decision is ultimately that you don’t want the stories we have to tell – your stories, then that is your choice, too.
I typically don’t keep the hate mail, but I saved this one to my “kudos” folder. It inspires me to push harder … and maybe earn a “wooo” or two.