Anybody who reads Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer will inevitably pause for a moment after reading this first line. Any journalist will stop entirely and have to put the book down for a second to consider the thesis. Because it's true, and it's so true that it has made me question since the day I read it back in February. I had said, in my response to this to the class, that Malcolm's book made me rethink everything I thought I knew about studying LJ and about why I wanted to be a journalist. As much as I love the book, it shook me.
But since then, I've gone through a course of questioning my goals and whether or not journalism really is my passion. The more I consider TJATM, the more I wonder if this is what my life is destined to be: a storyteller, not a story creator. "Write the story, don't be the story." It's what we're taught, after all.
Today in workshop, Jesse talked about using our skills as conversationalists and communicators to our advantage - something we've all done at a time or two, whether we're pursuing a story or not. I wonder, though, how much of it has leaked into my daily life. How many of us journalists are able to separate the personal from the professional? If we never put our journalism hat away, do we ever engage in authentic conversations? I read once that "journalists don't have friends, only sources." How true (or false) is that? After all, did I not turn an awkward and uncomfortable encounter into something I could use for a story?
Is the journalist/subject relationship really that perverse? People who just use one another for attention, and then cast one another aside once the job is done?