It’s What Makes A Journalist

A previous entry I posted on the ignominy I brought upon myself during last month’s commencement exercises at my old high school included a riff about my brief encounter with former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It was an awkward exchange, one I’d rather forget. But I finally admitted to it so I could hold forth on the vicissitudes of journalism.

As fate would have it, though, most of it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Today, however, is another day – the sun is shining, the skies are blue and since I don’t feel like mowing the lawn, I’m going to make the most of this beautiful weather to sit inside, risk the look I’m bound to get from my wife this evening and invite more shame to be heaped upon my head by revisiting my “Romney Moment.”

So here goes.

I deleted the Romney stuff because, for one thing, it made the post way too long. Mainly, though, it just didn’t seem to fit with the main theme, how I returned home only to face embarrassment IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL, as if I was 18 again.

You can scroll down or click here to read how I made an auditorium full of people scratch their heads last month. Or you can skip it, keep skimming this post and find out what I think my brush with Romney says about journalism.

Decide to skim? Okay, here’s how I described my “Romney Moment.”

Now, I’m left to deal with the aftermath of what will probably go down as the single most cringe-worthy thing I’ve ever done, topping even the time I persuaded Mitt Romney to do a quick interview only to have the batteries in my recorder die.

He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Well, maybe next time” and hustled off.

My attempt to interview Romney isn’t the only professional failure that makes the blood rush to my face, nor is it the worst. But at this point, it’s the only one I’m willing acknowledge. And, I suspect my colleagues have their own closets filled with moments they’d just as soon forget.

Personally, I don’t like to dwell on them. I prefer to focus on the glamorous side of the business – the important stories I’ve covered, the awards I’ve won and yes, the big shots I’ve successfully interviewed.

In fact, at work we recently celebrated a colleague who scooped the rest of the Washington, D.C. press corps after she reported on President Obama’s likely choice to head the FBI.

She received well-deserved praise and my employer was acknowledged for breaking the story by the likes of The New York Times and The Associated Press. Those moments are sweet, but if my experience is any guide, they are few and far between when compared to what happens in the day-to-day life of a journalist.

In order to enjoy the praise of your peers, you have to be willing to work hard and put yourself on the line. And sometimes, that means walking up to the likes of Mitt Romney and making a fool of yourself.

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