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10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do

10 Things You May Not Know About Journalists Though You Think You Do

As the recent experience of Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais proves, there is often a high price associated with exposing truths and scandals. Facing libel charges after writing about the horrors of a country’s diamond trade, serious journalists must place themselves at considerable risk if they are to uphold the values of honesty and integrity while delivering newsworthy content to their readers. This harsh reality is often overlooked, thanks to the antics of a select few tabloid journalists and editors who deal in sensational narratives rather than those with genuine value for the reader. The importance of serious journalism should never be underestimated, however, and neither should the sacrifices that journalists make in the quest to report real news in real-time to their audience.

With a small minority of tabloid reporters responsible for an entire series of misconceptions, let’s look at the following facts about serious journalists and how they stack up against popular stereotypes:

1. They are Deadline Driven

The world of news moves quickly and in real-time, meaning that stories have to be written, edited and published to a prohibitive deadline. This poses an issue for journalists, especially those who are forced to deal with regular interruptions with colleagues as they work. This can trigger a less than welcoming response that is perceived as rudeness, when it is in fact little more than a coping mechanism that enables them to maintain focus and deal with significant pressure.

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2. They are Versatile and Adaptable

Depending on their status and background, some journalists are required to cover numerous genres of news and stories over the course of their careers. Rather than highlighting inadequate levels of focus or a lack of clear orientation, this underlines a keen sense of versatility and willingness to accept unfamiliar work with minimal notice. So while established bloggers often receive more credit in the current marketplace, it is important to remember that they are able to create single-minded content that is dictated by their existing knowledge and expertise.

3. They are Calm in the Face of Criticism

While anyone who shares their work and opinions in a public forum are opening themselves up to criticism, people often fail to realize that journalists are human beings with emotive views and feelings of their own. Criticism is particularly hard to take when it is aimed at an honest and unbiased piece of journalism, especially when it is directed by Internet trolls who well-versed in the art of dissecting sound and well-reasoned arguments. When you consider the journalists have to face such criticism on a daily basis, they are constantly required to remain calm and professional in response.

4. They are Often Their Own Harshest Critics

The nature of journalism is interesting, as each author is given individual accreditation for their work and must take ownership of the content. This breeds both pride and a yearning for self-improvement, especially when they reread a published article and uncover sentences or paragraph that they would like to restructure. In this respect, journalists are often their own harshest critics, as they learn over time to remain strong when they doubt their ability and use mistakes as motivation to further hone their craft.

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5. They Work in an Incredibly Competitive Industry

The issue of self-improvement is an interesting one, as the journalism industry is as competitive as it is fast-paced. This means that a strong work ethic and a relentless quest for self-improvement are crucial to your chances of longevity in the sector, regardless of whether you work for a traditional media firm or an online brand. Many outsiders categorize those who work within the industry as being cut-throat and ruthless, when in fact they are simply committed to succeeding and carving out a long and rewarding career.

6. They are Deceptively Humble

Although some have described journalism as “an inherently arrogant profession,” this is at odds with some of the core elements of the sector. Not only is there a strong hierarchy within any typical media or news agency that commands a degree of servitude, but the majority of writers have their work shaped, changed and embellished by meticulous editors. So without a sense of humility and respect for the chain of command, journalists would not be able to survive in the industry.

7. They Risk their Careers Everyday

While many serious journalists may be deceptively humble, they are also courageous despite carrying a burden of great responsibility. Those in the front line of their field (such as investigative journalists) are forced to place their careers at risk every single day, as they strive to deliver insightful and often difficult news to the public regardless of any influential figures who may be involved. This can cause tremendous unrest and may even trigger lawsuits, meaning that journalists must have the courage of their convictions and remain true to their values at all times.

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8. They are Part of a Thriving Industry

The traditional news industry is undoubtedly moribund, but this is often misconstrued as the death of journalism. This is far from the truth, as the number of media outlets, online news carriers and reputable blog sites has risen at a considerable rate and created even more opportunities for skilled and experienced journalists. Many of the most established writers also have the opportunity to freelance in the modern age, as they look to maximize their earnings and report news across a rich diversity of media.

9. They are Highly Skilled and Qualified Writers

Conversely, the rising number of online media outlets has also created opportunities for those without a journalism degree or any associated experience. Alongside the emergence of independent blogging as a potentially lucrative career option, this has diluted the marketplace and created a perception that many writers are able to operate without a defined skill or academic qualifications. Journalists remain set apart from other writers, however, as they are all college educated, highly talented and exceptionally knowledgeable within their fields of expertise.

10. They Live in a Male Dominated World

From a female a perspective, the drive for equality and equal opportunities in the workplace has never been more strongly backed. These efforts have not yet been fully reflected in the world of journalism, with an estimated 79% of all newspaper articles penned by a male author. This means that female journalists face an even harder challenge to sustain their careers within the sector, despite the perception that they are able to operate from a fair and even playing field.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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