The weird lesson you pretty much expect about humanity is that people love attention and telling juicy gossip. But after becoming a journalist, you know it for a fact. What you don't expect is that high-ranking CEOs and politicians are as guilty of it (if not moreso) than the average citizen. You expect them to be tight-lipped because their jobs, companies, and countries depend on a whole lot of information never making it to the public eye. But when it all boils down, it doesn't matter if the person you're speaking to is under a "don't say a goddamn word" contract; if something interesting happens, they have to tell someone.
You Have To Become An Immediate Expert In Anything
Just because you have a specialty doesn't mean you know absolutely everything there is to know about it, because I think that by that stage, journalists will have assumed their final form and become actual computers. Until the day of enlightenment promised to all reporters comes, journalists will do what everyone else does when they need to quickly brush up on something: They Google it.
This can take you to some odd places. As a rookie reporter, I got a call about a conference on the Nigerian gas and oil market that was happening right goddamn then. I shot over there, Googling everything I could about this market which I knew very little about. This was not enough to appease the ancient gods of journalism, though, who saw me trying to get a grip on a massive topic in a very short time span, and promptly gave me the finger. It turned out that I had misheard the heavily Nigerian-accented voice of the person who invited me on the phone, and the conference wasn't about gas and oil at all. It was actually about the Nigerian diaspora -- people who had moved away from the country.
Astute readers might notice that this has absolutely f**k all to do with finance, and I was now in my third hour out of the office in an early reporting job where I was desperate to impress my editor. But thanks to being an almost full-time denizen of the internet, my googling had given me enough information that I was able to ask one or two vaguely related, smart-sounding questions. In short, I blagged it. You need to get used to these sorts of blags, because they come up out of nowhere.
Sometimes, of course, this goes spectacularly badly, like when this junior reporter was certain that John Cusack was in American Beauty, even after he repeatedly told her that he wasn't. That video is a beautiful slow-motion car wreck. I wonder how I can relate it to finance?
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