Why I am thankful for a career in journalism



When I count my blessings on Thanksgiving, the list includes one unlikely item.

This is not to say my priorities are out of order. I am very thankful for family, friends and good health, but I also am deeply thankful I have been able to spend the bulk of my professional career in the field of journalism.

Giving thanks for a career in journalism may seem like an odd choice, especially to anyone who has never worked in a newsroom. By and large, the public feels journalists are intrusive and biased, that they sensationalize stories, and that they fail to report the news accurately and fairly.

Some of those criticisms are valid. Over the years, I have done my share of media critiquing in research studies, conference presentations and op-ed articles, and I have done it in a thoughtful, constructive manner.

But despite its flaws, the news industry provides the public with a unique and valuable service. Journalists are our watchdogs.

They hold those in power accountable. They make sacrifices to keep us informed and educated. Their efforts may as simple as working on a holiday to report the score of a local high school football game. Or they may be paying the ultimate sacrifice covering war and violence.

Providing election commentary and analysis in 2009

I am proud to be a part of this profession. I am also fortunate because the news business is an exhilarating field that provides journalists with the opportunity to go to the places everyone wants to go, to speak with the people everyone wants to speak with, and to ask them the questions everyone wants to ask.

As longtime journalist John Maxwell Hamilton explained: “As much responsibility as our profession carries, we have a comparative advantage in having fun.

Being a journalist is endlessly exhilarating.

Most people stop taking field trips after they leave grade school. Journalism is one field trip after another. We can knock on any door and ask questions. And if they don’t let us in, we can go around to the back.”

So enjoy your Thanksgiving, and when you count your blessings, give some thought to adding a new item to your list this year.



Richard Lee is an assistant professor at Saint Bonaventure University and director of the Integrated Marketing Communications Program at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  Before being named Director of Communications at the Hall Institute of Public Policy, Lee served in the Office of the Governor, Woodbridge Township and New Jersey General Assembly, as a spokesperson for James E. McGreevey. He previously worked as a reporter and editor with The Woodbridge News Tribune, The Aquarian Weekly, Mutual of New York’s MONY News, and The Montclair Times.

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