Day 9 – Are we all just mad here?

Matt Pinkney battles against the deadline as he rushes to finish his first story. // Photo by Brian Nguyen

Matt Pinkney battles against the deadline as he rushes to finish his first story. // Photo by Brian Nguyen

By Matt Pinkney, Mosaic Staff Writer

As deadline approaches, it’s natural to switch between thinking “Oh God, how am I going to finish on time?” and “So, what’s next?”  At school, this means thinking about what my story for the next issue.

At Mosaic, though, there is no next issue.  After we go to print, that’s it.  Done.  Goodbye San Jose State, goodbye newsroom, welcome back to a regular summer.  So my “what’s next?” has to be taken up by larger things.

I want to be a writer.  It’s something I enjoy doing and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since middle school.  But writing is one of those skills with a lot of applications.  What can you use writing for?  More accurately, what can’t you use it for?  If I want to write for a living, there’s a million different ways to do that.

But I think when I say “I want to write,” most people know what I mean.  I want my job to be writing.  In an English-y sort of way.

Fiction is one way to do that.  And it does have a certain glamour attached to it, if only for nerdy, book-loving kids like me.  And I’ve taken steps to make that happen.  My first novel, Birth by Flame, is going to be published this fall.  It’s an exciting prospect.  But, most professional authors have a certain quality about them.  A certain “I’m already financially stable” quality that I don’t.

Journalism is another way to write for a living.  And it seems more economically viable!  Yet I’m still in that gray area of not knowing what I want to do.  Call it teenage angst or indecision or shake your walking stick at “them gosh-darn millennials,” but I’m still just a kid, really.

This article doesn’t make things any easier for me.  It lists the ten careers with the highest concentration of people with psychopathic tendencies.  And journalist is sitting comfortably at number 6 on that list.

At first, I was a little shocked.  The professional journalists I’ve met and worked with certainly don’t seem like psychopaths.  So I did a little digging as to what “psychopathic tendencies” really are.

One study lists three main symptoms of psychopathy that can be observed to varying degrees.  These are boldness, disinhibition and meanness.

Boldness is definitely something journalists have in abundance.  How many times have I been told to get out there, get that story, dig deeper, be curious?  I ask because I’ve lost track myself.

Disinhibition is a trickier thing to grasp.  It’s described as “poor impulse control” among other things.  I can’t see that as a specific trait in the journalists I know, but I guess it can happen.

Now, meanness.  It’s not really what you might think.  It’s not being actively malicious; it’s more having a lack of empathy.  And…I can see that in a lot of journalists.  We have empathy and form close attachments with each other.  At Mosaic, we were all friends within a few minutes of meeting each other.  But, we can’t really have empathy towards our stories.  You have to report the objective truth and you might have to deal with extremely emotional situations.  And you have to do all of this while remaining neutral.  Eventually, I think you just get desensitized.

So, maybe it’s not a matter of psychopaths being drawn to journalism.  Maybe it’s a matter of journalism producing psychopaths.

But, then again, maybe everyone in this newsroom is just waiting to crack.  Whatever the case, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around in this profession long enough to find out.

Or maybe I will!  It’s fun and exciting and the people here are all genuinely great people I want to be great friends with.  Does this mean they aren’t psychopaths?  Or are we all just mad here?

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