Don’t Be Shy

via openwalls.com

For journalists, gathering information is a huge part of our job.

Some events and scenes are easier than others, but you can’t be shy while you are there. Your stories will suffer and your editors will not be happy.

Let’s be honest. You aren’t going to know many people that you are going to have to talk to. It’s that simple. Being shy is something you’ll have to break early on.

In my first two weeks, I had to cover several events. The crowds I talked to ranged from families to elementary school children. I had to put on a different “hat” for each event. It’s not easy to do. I did okay, but looking back on those stories, I know I could have done better had I not been as shy. My shyness came from being nervous. I had just graduated in December and, by January, I was covering front page stories. It was a bit of a shock.

I was able to grow and mature from that and, as the last nine months of shown, I’m more than willing to go up to random strangers and talk to them.

And that’s an invaluable resource to have as a journalist.

There have been days where I’ve rushed out to an accident, talked to bystanders and witnesses, and then rushed to a feature story interview within an hour. It’s all part of the job and, in order to keep up, you have to be flexible and have a personality that people can “click” with.

Growing up, I was really shy. I stayed in my room and read books. When I got to college I opened up, but it took my internships for me to go out and step out of my comfort zone. It was insanely tough to do. I wasn’t used to just walking up to people and asking them their names and ages, while hoping they answer any questions I may have for them. It took a lot of practice and dedication. That’s the one thing I cannot stress enough. I’m no expert now, either. I am still learning about myself and this profession on a daily basis. Each day is practice for me.

You can’t expect your shyness to go away instantly. Poynter has a nice piece on what you can do to overcome your shyness.

Even if you aren’t shy it’s a great read.

Jonathan

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