1. The call-back. Your deadline is approaching and you need one quote from one person. It would take him less than a minute to give you that quote. But his secretary insists he’s in a meeting and will call you back even though she knows that you know all he’s really doing is taking a mid-afternoon siesta.
2. Human interaction. Talking to people is no fun simply because most people are dullards. Yet, every day you have to grit your teeth and smile at worthless, boring people because that is part of your job.
3. Stenography. All your job really consists of is writing down what other people say.
4. Breeding self-importance. Despite point 3, reporters think they are doing vital work. Even if all they’re doing is going to a fashion show and writing about how runway models are defying the Taliban.
5. Faux objectivity. Reporters are not supposed to have opinions but they make their biases very clear anyway. All they have to do is pick the smartest quote from a person who agrees with them and ‘balance’ it out with the most inane quote they could get from a low-IQ individual.
6. The hours. It doesn’t matter if Federer is thrashing Nadal at Wimbledon. If a story needs to be done at midnight you will have to go and do it, the tennis be damned.
7. Manufacturing news. Some days the newspaper just needs to be blank. But that wouldn’t be a profitable venture so reporters have to invent stories just to fill up space.
8. Forgetting to press “record”. There is nothing worse than spending an hour interviewing someone only to realise you never pressed that all-important red button.
9. Becoming a stalker. There are a few creatures on this planet who just don’t want to be quoted in the newspaper. Staking out their office, putting them on speed dial and harassing their kids should be criminal but it’s a basic part of reporting.
10. Editors. They will take great pleasure in mutilating your carefully crafted prose and even get paid more than you do just for wielding a metaphorical scalpel.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 12th, 2011.