As I am writing this week’s column, I’m sitting in my home office looking out the window at the frozen landscape left during the recent and very lengthy ice storm.
It has been an interesting week for me. For those who have had trouble reaching me last week, I was off for most of the week with the flu.
What has made this an interesting challenge for me is, because I am a reporter, I am so used to moving around all the time, going out to get the information and the photos I need, I am not used to having to rest for days and recover. Despite knowing it is necessary to rest and recuperate when you are sick, I constantly felt like I should have been up and doing something. I know my colleague Christopher Green wrote about a similar experience dealing with recuperating from illness in a previous edition of his column.
Fast forward to now, and I am sitting at home carefully trying to conserve power on this laptop as I write. Again, despite knowing that safety is my main concern, I cannot stop this nagging feeling that I should be in the office or out in the community working, rather than being forced to be housebound because of the weather.
In my mind, people should not have these worries. In reality, when they are sick, they should allow themselves to get better before they come into the office again. When the weather gives people no choice but to stay back, and either take the day off or do their best to work from home, we shouldn’t feel guilty for making our safety the top priority. However, no matter what reassurances employers, family members, or I give myself, these guilty feelings remain.
So, why is this the case? That is something I have wondered for a while. I have two ideas on this subject.
Personally, I think people see going to work and earning a paycheque as accomplishing something with your day; while they feel the opposite when they stay back and recover, feeling they were lazy.
I also think there is an expectation people put on themselves to go to work every day no matter what state they are in so they feel like a dedicated employee.
However, the main message I want people to take from this week’s column is, it is okay to need one, two or even three days to get over an illness. You would not be the same productive person if you came in sick. It is also okay if you can’t make it somewhere because the roads are unsafe or the weather is horrible, of course as long as you communicate that concern in a timely manner.
So, for those who are feeling guilty about being off work for these reasons, I give you permission to put yourself first and to take care of yourself.
As people who have avidly read my column over the years know, one of my favourite parts about this job is meeting the many different people in our coverage area.
Since I started working here at The Standard, I have always felt engagement is very important to the journalism industry While I have spent time the past few years getting to know numerous people, I wanted to use this edition of my column to answer questions people might have about myself, the job, or the journalism industry.
In my last column, I put out an ask for people to send me questions through my Twitter account, my email or by calling me for a question and answer style column. I have received some questions I will answer in this column. So let’s begin.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be a journalist?
A: When I was in my last year of high school, I decided to apply to the journalism program at Durham College because I was hoping to become a sports reporter. This was mainly because I was, and still am, a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan and I was aspiring to cover the NHL either on television, radio or by working at a newspaper.
However, it was not until partway through my first year in the Durham College program that I, through working on assignments and a couple stories, realized I have a passion for telling other people’s stories and writing hard news stories. I was happy the course allowed me the opportunity to write all sorts of stories, from hard news, to feature stories and of course covering a couple campus sports teams.
I still love covering sports as well, and I was happy I got the opportunity to cover the Port Perry MoJacks this season.
Q: What are your aspirations and have you ever felt crushed by expectations?
A: To answer the first part of this question, currently I aspire to be the best reporter I can be. I try to do the best I can with every story I write and photo I take, and I’m constantly looking for opportunities to write about new topics. I enjoy working in this community.
On the second part of that question, I can tell you I have pretty high expectations of myself, and, personally, I think I am my own worst critic. I hold myself to a high standard with everything I send in to be published, so I think the highest expectations of me are the ones I put on myself. There may have been times I felt I might not have met those personal benchmarks, but I am constantly looking to learn and improve.
Q: With people claiming "print is dead" what are your thoughts on the future of journalism?
A: First off, I’ve heard this claim that print is dead for several years now, yet The Standard is still here and the print version is still being read by thousands of people in our coverage area.
Now, the journalism industry is a constantly changing field, and for media outlets to survive we must continue to evolve. Of course, saying that, being in the digital age where people have access to news on all sorts of platforms at their fingertips, and with some politicians talking about the rise of “fake news”, I believe more than ever in the importance of the old journalism school adage of getting it right being more important than getting it first. The public looks to reporters for the facts and we must always do our due diligence to make sure our stories are 100 per cent accurate. As a last statement, I think the journalism industry is very important in small communities, and big cities in democratic nations, and for now I plan on being optimistic about the industry’s future.
Q: What’s a “cearnsader”?
A: Ok, here’s the origin story of the column name. Cearnsader is a mix of my last name and DC Comics’ Batman’s nickname the Caped Crusader. In fact it was a friend from college I helped solve an issue for who gave me that nickname, and later when I joined The Standard team and was asked for a column name I thought it would be a good name for this column.
Q: Best advice to aspiring reporters?
A: To start, let me say one of the things that makes this job so exciting is, it is different every day, so if you like that kind of thing then journalism might be for you.
One of the things I find is so important as a reporter is time management. To be able to put out multiple stories per week, you must create for yourself a system to organize your assignments. Once you have that system, I recommend getting started on the assignments/stories as soon as you can.
Also, talk to people in your community and try to learn about them and what makes their story unique. You might be surprised what you learn.
Lastly, just read all the news articles you can and be constantly looking for other angles to those stories that might not have been covered yet.
To sum up, I hope people have learned a lot from this question and answer edition of my column, and if anyone has any questions for me in the future feel free to ask me on my Twitter account or if you see me in person. You can also email me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy