The Scowling Journalist

by dalimun

Beberapa kali bertemu kawan atau kolega tak sedikit dari mereka yang menanyakan dinamika pekerjaan saya sebagai jurnalis alias wartawan. Ada yang menganggap enak lantaran bebas berpakaian dan jam kerja (ini mungkin perlu diluruskan he he), ada yang bilang “keren” karena jurnalis pasti cerdas (entahlah…) ada juga yang bilang wartawan pasti tidak beragama (agak kaget mendengarnya, tapi memang iya “tidak beragama” dalam kapasitas memberitakan)

Saya sendiri sangat menghargai pendapat semacam itu. Saat ditanya pun saya tidak terlalu banyak menyampaikan hal-hal yang barangkali bisa memicu “perselisihan idealisme” antara kami. Biarlah omongan itu sebatas obrolan antar-teman.

Ada beberapa kawan yang berlaku moderat dengan celetukan “Itu hanya wang sinawang” yang dalam Bahasa Indonesia akan berujung pada pepatah “rumput tetangga lebih hijau dari rumput sendiri”.

Saya pikir setiap pekerjaan memiliki dinamikanya masing-masing. “Sebebas”, “sekeren” atau bahkan “semenyedihkan” apapun pandangan orang atas profesi jurnalis masih ada sisi lain yang hanya dirasakan oleh mereka yang benar-benar berstatus jurnalis.

Semangat membuncah sarjana fresh graduate lulusan Fakultas Komunikasi pada dunia jurnalistik sangatlah wajar. Apalagi mereka yang masih menyandang status anggota lembaga pers mahasiswa, kebanyakan merasakan hal yang sama. Asumsi itu datang dari beberapa kali diskusi saya dengan kedua kategori kawan tersebut. Saya sendiri hanya bisa berasumsi karena tidak pernah menjadi salah satu atau keduanya, hanya status jurnalis yang saat ini masih melekat sebagai profesi.

Ada salah satu tulisan yang menurut saya cukup menarik dan barangkali bisa menggambarkan bagaimana dinamika profesi jurnalis dan kehidupan keredaksian mereka. Artikel singkat yang ditulis jurnalis Chichago Daily News Sydney J Harris itu menjadi pengantar buku Interpretative Reporting karya Curtis McDougall yang kali pertama diterbitkan pada 1966 (jadul, tapi please saya tidak setua itu…he he).

Saya belum menemukan versi digital dari buku itu. Saya tulis ulang artikel itu apa adanya, silakan kalau berminat membaca (dan ingin tersenyum sendiri…).

One Big Happy Family

By Sydney J. Harris

Journalism students are always writing in to ask they can come up and look around a newspaper office, just to see how it runs. Since the weather may turn hot, I will spare them the trip, and explain some of the salient features of the editorial room.

This is the City Desk. The man sitting there with a scowl on his face is the City Editor. He is scowling because he wants more space on local news, and can’t get it.

This is the Makeup Desk. The man sitting there with a scowl in the face is the Makeup Editor. He is scowling because he has to put 12,000 lines of type into 8,000 lines of space. This, everyone knows, is imposible — but he will manage to do it.

This is the Copy Desk. The pale, haggard men lolling around the rim of the desk with scowls on their faces are Copyreaders. They are scowling because it is their job to read the stories the reporters have written. In their opinion, the reporters are stupid, incompetent, innacurate and incoherent hakcs who exist only to make life miserable for Copyreaders.

These are Reporters’ Desk. The reporters are scowling because the Copyreaders have butchered all their stories beyond recognition, and they are wondering how so many vicious and illiterate sadists managed to become Copyreaders on this particular newspaper.

This is the Rewrite Desk. The mean leaning back on their chairs, with their feet on the desk, working the crossword puzzle, are Rewrite Men. They are scowling because they can’t think of three-letter word meaning a “domesticated feline.”

This is the Feature Writers’s Desk. The man sitting there with a scowl on his face is a Feature Writer. He is scowlling because he hasn’t had a juicy assignment in three days and is convinced there is a conspiracy to prevent him from getting a by-line for the rest of the year.

This is the Sports Desk. The man sitting there with a scowl on his face is a Sports Writer. He is scowling because all his relatives are pestering him for tickets to ball games and prize fights. Especially his wifes relatives.

This is the Editorial Writers’ Desk. The man sitting there with a scowl on his face is Editorial Writer. He is scowling because he has to write editorial on the Foreign Ministers’ Conference when he would rather be out fishing. Editorials in July sound like it, too.

This is a Columnist’s Desk. Theman sitting there with a scowl on his handsome face is a Columnist. He is scowling because everybody else on the paper hates him. The Editorial Writers would grab his space for more comment on the atomic bomb. The Feature Writers all know they could turn out much better column with one hand. The Managing Edtor is sure he is taking too much expense account money. The Publisher has a feeling nobody is reading his stuff. And his wife wants to know why he isn’t getting more money for wonderfull job he’s doing.

See that man across the room here? He’s the only one who isn’t scowling. He is the Window Washer.

Chicago Daily News

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