Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Celebrate Passion Project - Guest Blogger, Anita Bruzzese - "A Goat is NOT a Ferrari"

In my search to celebrate the passion that people have for their work and lives I reached out to many bloggers to share their stories. Few took me up on the offer to be my guest blogger, as they were "too busy" (too busy for passion?) or they did not see my audience as large enough to match their level of celebrity. But those who have participated have helped make this project spectacular (see Connie Reece, Jon Ray, and Steve Harper).

Today I have a guest blog post from syndicated columnist Anita Bruzzese. I got to know her this year when we were introduced by blogger, author and career guru Jason Alba. I admire the passion she has for her career, and it comes through in her writing. A BIG TEXAS "thank you" to Anita for being today's guest blogger.

A Goat is NOT a Ferrari
by Anita Bruzzese

First, let me admit that I sent Thom an e-mail as soon as I read his entry about the “A-list” blogger who couldn’t be bothered to write for Thom’s “little blog.” I won’t get into specifics of my note to Thom other than to say that after I provided some personal commentary about the blogger, I offered to write about my passion if Thom was interested. Thom’s response was immediate: “yes, yes, yes.”

I’m a journalist, and telling a story is my passion.

For the last 20-plus years, I’ve been a journalist and probably will be writing a story when God calls me home to work for The Heavenly Times. I took my first journalism class at 17, not because it was a big interest, but because I needed to fill an English credit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I can still remember that first class like it was yesterday. I literally felt my heart pick up speed as the teacher began talking about how to construct a story and how to use reporting techniques to get the facts. I never looked back. I went to college and got my degree in journalism, and have been a working journalist ever since.

As a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of amazing things. I’ve been on drug busts with the DEA, I have helped catch armed robbers while on a story (I have the police citation to prove it), I’ve covered and attended Presidential Inaugural events, I’ve attended and reported on numerous hearings on Capitol Hill (bor-ing), and I’ve written about fire and tornado victims stumbling through the remains of their homes. I’ve even seen a few murder victims, reporting on crime scenes for readers who think it’s like what they see on television (it’s not…it’s much worse).

But some of the stories I remember most include the mother and her four children living in a shack in the hills of Missouri with no running water or electricity or the couple who adopted 11 severely handicapped children and repeatedly mentioned how they were so “blessed.”

My passion is making sure stories are reported and told in the most honest way possible. I became a journalist in the post-Nixon years, when it became clear that this country needed journalists to continually seek the truth, no matter what the obstacles. Of course, things have changed since I entered the business. To be honest, some “media” types who now populate the airwaves and various publications with the single-minded objective of boosting their own popularity turn my stomach. I don’t count them as journalists, any more than a goat can be counted as a Ferrari.

I feel even more strongly about my profession when I remember that in the last year, 64 journalists have been killed, the highest level since 1994, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Many of these were killed in Iraq or Somalia, victims of war and local violence. But many were targeted and killed because they were journalists. In fact, murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths for journalists worldwide.

So, while it’s easy for some people to criticize the “media” and blame “them” for being the messenger of the world’s news, it’s also important to consider where we’d be without journalists, especially the ones who put their lives on the line every day.

While the job may seem glamorous for some of the more well-known television journalists, the truth is that most of us labor in high-stress, pressure-cooker environments, facing continual layoffs and low pay as well as a 24/7 demand that takes a terrible toll on our private lives.

But we do it because it’s more than a job – it’s a calling. For me – and thousands of other journalists – we remain passionately committed to telling stories. And despite all that we face, we know one universal truth: We’re so very lucky.

Have A Great Day


Anonymous said...

Anita, thanks for sharing your passion about journalism. My takeaway is two-fold: 1. The power and importance of story. People identify with people, and whether you're a journalist, blogger, author or corporate communicator, your writing will always be more effective if you learn the art of storytelling. 2. Passion = calling. We've lost the concept of vocation in our society. Careers are too often all about money, not passion or calling. Thanks for the reminder.

JibberJobber Guy said...

I love this post. I got to know Anita through her career/workplace column, read her book, have followed her blog, but reading this is really cool. For some reason I hadn't caught onto this general journalism passion, and it really adds to the depth/breadth of Anita - thanks for posting this Thom!