Monday, August 20, 2007

Musings of a Journalist

Dave Bakke is a long-time writer at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, where the following essay first appeared this spring:

I am a journalist.

It is my fault that the majority of Americans do not support the war in Iraq.

It was my fault when Americans turned against the war in Vietnam.

I am the reason your teenaged girl dresses like that.

I made “Lady In The Water” tank at the box office.

I am unfair to the president. Every president.

When you feel bad about the future, it is because of me.

I do not know what is important.

I am biased.

I misspell your name and get your address wrong every time.

I snoop around into your business and tell everyone about it.

I am a dinosaur on my way to the dust heap of history.

I am a pest.

Global warming was dreamed up by me.

I don’t get it.

I only print the bad news.

I need you more than you need me.

I get sued, hung up on, shouted at, thrown out and punched.

I am too big for my britches.

I have no business being where I am most of the time.

I print your divorce in the paper.

I print your marriage in the paper.

I dwell on your failures.

I blow things out of proportion.

If your kid robs the liquor store, I print it.

If your kid makes Eagle Scout, I print it.

I tell people about your anniversary, your birthday, your wedding, your award, your promotion, your retirement, your death.

I tell you about unknown people doing wonderful things for other unknown people.

I end up in your scrapbook and on your refrigerator.

I print the quirky, the unusual, the heartwarming, the sad, the happy, the inspiring, the surprising, the awesome and the trivial - all of the goulash that makes up life.

At dawn, I am in a car somewhere on my way to talk to someone who just saved a life.

At midnight, I am on the way to a fire.

Sometimes I like to do the unexpected. Like this.

I do not expect to be liked, admired or trusted. So when you do, it means more.

You do not expect me to be likable, admirable or trustworthy. So when I am, it means more.

I tell what I have to tell about you, despite your importance, what position you hold or how much influence you have.

I tell what I have to tell about you even if you are nobody, do not hold any position or have any influence at all.

I could have done something else with my life and escaped your blame for things that go wrong.

But, no, I could have done nothing else with my life. This is what I’ve always wanted.

I am a journalist.

I tell stories.

You read them.

It’s as simple as that.

And as complex.