What I Didn’t Learn in Journalism School
In the public relations firm where I worked with years ago, we had a list of no-nos, among them:
1. Never pay to get a story published.
2. Never beg for the story’s publication.
2. Minimize the follow-up.
The third is something I rarely do, and it’s a task I detest so much. My style is usually to re-send the original article with a note asking whether it has been received. Sometimes, when the principal is badgering me, I pick up the phone and ask, gently, whether the article had been used or, if it has not been run, whether more information is needed.
I find following up in bad taste because as a journalist, I don’t want to be placed in a position wherein I have to defend why (1) I did not run the story and (2) why it is taking so long for the story to be written/published. I do not think I owe anybody an explanation.
Writing is a mental, arduous task. It is something I don’t do well when I am depressed, sick, or unhappy, and especially when I’m physically and mentally tired. I have so much respect for the publications I am with that I will not send off a sloppily written story to be run with my byline. (Admittedly, I usually do not read my articles after publication. Seeing typos is just too painful for my heart.)
There are days when the act of coming up with a 500-word story (which is just half the length of the stories I write for my day job) feels like labor (or constipation, if you will, LOL) and I am almost inclined to bash my head against the wall in desperation. I am usually irritated when that happens. I’m not a fun person to be around when that happens.