Today our lecture hall welcomed a very special guest – a CBC correspondent, anchor and journalist David Common. He talked about his learning experiences with CBC, his work in Afghanistan and how he copes with stress while at work. Throughout his 2-hour presentation, Common taught us valuable lessons, which we probably wouldn’t have learned by ourselves in our early stages in journalism practice.
The first lesson that I learned was that journalists always have to be educated about the country they are reporting from, because otherwise they can either lose a piece of themselves – literally – or not come back home at all. Commn told us about how he walked into a mine field when the Nature suddenly called in the middle of a long trip in the Middle East. He emphasized that his Canadian mentality thought it was a simple field, but realized that he almost walked into the arms of Death. Although he tried to tell it in a funny way, I’m sure that deep down he still remembers how terrifying this experience was.
Despite almost dying (perhaps even multiple times), Common seeks a positive side in everything. His experiences are so diverse that with time he learned to appreciate even the smallest events that he gets to witness while on the job. For example, he was honored to see a group of women who mourned the dead after an earthquake in Haiti, which he was sent to report on. What caught him by surprise was that they were singing while burying the bodies. It is true that with time people learn to cope with pain that was born out of death, but it takes extreme strength and courage to let go so meaningfully. This taught me that journalism lets me to experience the world in a beautiful way , but reminds me that it is also a dangerous job.
Another brilliant advice that David shared with us was that in order to achieve our goals we have to make our own opportunities. His example was how he got his job at CBC: he pushed his way through by saying “yes” a lot and took a lot of initiatives to get to where he wanted to be. Such persistence is something that we, journalists, should learn at early stages, because it will greatly help us in future career development. David is glad that he built his own way up and just listening to him shows me that he is very confident about his job.
A few of my fellow students had an opportunity to witness David at work a week prior to his appearance in our lecture hall. They shared that he did not start to prepare to talk until 30 seconds prior to being on air. I was very impressed by this because it shows that David is confident in his skills. Yet as easy and fun his job sounds, it brings a lot of stress; when asked how he deals with it, David jokingly said that his answer cannot be published. Therefore, here are some stress coping options for journalists: