The introverted journalist

Recently, I began working as a full-time staff writer for the Three Rivers Commercial-News. I can now call myself a full-time journalist.

When people think of a journalist, they picture an individual with a camera, notebook and recorder in hand, chasing down their source while shouting questions at them. Some may picture a tenacious individual going to any length possible to get the scoop for a story.

While there are times a journalist has to be “pushy” so to speak to grab certain information for a story, whether that be ambushing a reluctant source or tracking them down relentlessly, I admit that I am not your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical journalist.

I am a journalist who happens to be an introvert.

Being an introvert means that I become exhausted after being around a large group of people for a long period of time. It means that I would rather stay in on a Friday night binge watching a show on Netflix. It means I need alone time to recharge my batteries.

I know it sounds like being an introvert and a journalist don’t mix. To some people, it may be a faulty combination. I don’t agree. I know which questions to ask and I know when to turn on my inner extrovert when it is necessary. I love writing, that is why I am a journalist. I love telling stories and meeting new people, learning about their lives.

Admittedly, some days it is not easy for me to pick up the phone and call a source for a difficult story, or charge ahead after a prominent person after a controversial meeting. Oftentimes, I am standing and waiting quietly for them to finish their conversation with someone else before I begin asking questions. I make sure I get what I need, though.

I have been working in journalism for the last six years and it has served me well for the most part. Sure, I take it personally when someone criticizes an article I wrote or criticizes me, but then I remember that opinions are nothing more than opinions. I don’t do well with confrontation, either. It is a skill I am working on.

I do have days when I would rather be home in my bed hiding from society instead of sitting in a meeting or conducting an interview, but we all have those days. It’s more a matter of my introversion creeping in. That is when I have to force myself to adapt to the situation and become a “social butterfly” for that allotted amount of time.

Afterwards, I am usually exhausted. That is when I need to go home and recharge.

Let’s face it, introverts have received a bad rep in the workforce and society in general. Society adores extroverts. This article, “Introverts pose a problem for hirers” published on ft.com in January 2014, states that organizations are more likely to hire individuals who “relish social life, and are energized by interacting with friends and strangers – people who are ‘assertive, go-getting and and able to seize the day.'” This is a description taken from Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

It’s easy to understand why companies would want to hire an extrovert over an introvert; extroverts are social, they get their energy from socializing. Introverts can be drained from too much socializing. However, just because someone is an introvert doesn’t make them a bad candidate for a job.

In fact, the article states Cain argues that “introverts require much less stimulation and operate at their best when they are allowed to do so in quieter and lower-key environments. A reader can conclude that noisier extroverts might not always be ideal and that introverts can be better for business.” Cain’s views are supported by a 2010 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania management school that found introverted leaders typically deliver better outcomes than extroverts. (ft.com)

An excerpt from the article says the problem recruiters have with introverts is they don’t sell themselves or present their skills in the same manner that extroverts do, putting introverts at a disadvantage.

Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I’m a bad journalist. I still do my job, and (most of the time; I’m only human) I do it well. I simply don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical journalist. I don’t find anything wrong with that. I’m an introvert with a passion for writing and telling stories.

And that’s OK.

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