A few weeks ago, I spoke to the journalism class at Malibu High School. I talked, in part, about how being a journalist is the best job in the world. It gets you into rooms you’d never be able to walk into ordinarily. It takes you to places in the world you’ve likely never get to see otherwise. The fact that I have been able to work my entire adult life as a journalist is a blessing beyond compare. It certainly hasn’t made me rich, at least not monetarily, but there has never been a moment when I have wanted to change professions and it is still a thrill to have a great interview, break a story, or put another deadline behind me.
This past 24 hours only reinforced that for me. Last night, I hosted a panel of top female songwriters at a Songwriters Hall of Fame event at the Grammy Museum’s Clive Davis Theater. I got to share a stage with women who had written huge hits for Ricky Martin, Kenny Chesney, Beyonce, Rihanna, Avril Lavigne and many more and ask them about how they create songs that we’ve all come to love. After all these years of covering music, songwriters remain the Holy Grail to me. I am fascinated that someone can create something out of thin air and then that song becomes part of our lives.
Speaking of touching all our lives, this morning I hosted the book release party for Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” a limited edition, very high end book of his photographs through his entire life. It really serves, as he said, as his autobiography. In front of around 350 people, I got to interview legendary rock and roll photographer Henry Diltz about his work and what he thought of Ringo’s photography style, then Dave Grohl from Nirvana/Foo Fighters and The Black Crowes’ Steve Gorman about how Ringo had influenced them as musicians and drummers, and then, Ringo himself. In fact, I can still smell his cologne on me from when he hugged me. He was very funny and gracious and told great stories. One of his photographs is of him and Paul McCartney that looks very staged because they were using a self-timer. It was taken in a hotel room during one of their trips to America. In the book he talks about how the Beatles, no matter how famous, continued to share hotel rooms. I asked him about that and he said that’s how you really get to know your bandmates. They always had two rooms and bunked with each other and they always rode in the same car/van together...quite a far cry to how members of huge bands now travel by sometimes not even riding on the same tour bus. He then added that the only rule was if you were in the car and you farted, you had to admit it. Now that’s a Beatles story I’d never heard before!
Of course, not every 24 hours is like this... in fact, I’ve never had a 24 hours like that before. But that’s another great thing about being a reporter. No two days are ever alike. And I can safely say that only about .000000000000001% of my days include a Beatle, but my point is that to love what you do is a gift and I know that. The same job that gives me immense amounts of pleasure most days is the same one that puts a roof over my head and food on my table.
I knew I wanted to be a journalist from the time I was in fifth grade and that desire never wavered. Even though I didn’t major in journalism in college, I was lucky to have a great high school journalism teacher named Sara Houck who gave me great training (and whom I’ve been trying to find for a long time to thank her) and outlets to write for.
Not everyone is as fortunate. The International Center for Journalists trains citizen journalists and media managers in more than 180 countries. In places where asking questions can get you killed, ICFJ works with reporters to give them best practices by starting journalism schools they can attend and giving them the tools of the trade.
Oct. 23: International Center for Journalists
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