And The Award Goes To... Not You

And The Award
Goes To... Not You

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 March 05, 2019

Award season isn’t just for movie stars.

Deflated. Defeated. Devastated. You worked SO hard on the story you submitted for that award. Maybe you submitted more than one. You can’t even post the obligatory, “It was an honor to be nominated,” because the results are in and… NONE of them made it. 😩

This scenario is all too common among journalists. We’ve felt those feelings. Some have felt them many, many times. Here come the questions… again. ‘Why didn’t they like it? Why wasn’t I good enough? What else do they want?’

Cue the inner commentary, ‘I worked so hard. This is ridiculous. If they only knew. So-and-so beat ME? How? Oh, but so-and-so was nominated again. That’s no surprise. Do they know the judges or something? Are they paying them off?’

It’s difficult not to roll your eyes, (while also rolling away the tears) and let those thoughts creep in. But, you’ve got to stay strong and realize: awards aren’t everything. Yes, they pad your resume, and may make people take a second look at your work, but they’re not why we do this.

When people ask me about my career, I tell them, “Man, this job is addicting.” And I mean it. I’m addicted.

Think about it, the highs are so high and the lows are so low.

Broke a huge story? It was the top story, AND you killed your live shot? High. The next day though everything fell through, you got yelled at, and your gear broke. Low.

But, the next day…you came back for more. Why? Because you’re addicted. It’s okay. I am too. I have been for nearly a decade.

Being in the biz that long, I’ve also had my fair share of disappointment. Not winning, or even being nominated for, an award is one of them… especially after you pay your own entry fees. It’s a low we all face at some point or another. The trick is finding that next high.

Recovering from disappointment is difficult. So, let’s go back to the beginning. Why do we do what we do?

We’re journalists because we like to help people. We warn people about issues in their communities, we advocate for people who can’t speak up for themselves, we cover bad weather, we cover breaking news, we share stories of hope, we’re creative and we just like to tell stories. Nowhere in there does it include, “and we must win awards.”

Sure, it’s nice to be recognized for something you’ve done, but the truth is, most of the time, you won’t be.

You may even encounter the opposite. It’s a whole lot easier for people to point out your flaws than your hard work. Truth is though, somewhere your hard work is being noticed.

That story you did with the homeless person… you remember right? After that story aired, someone came forward and hired that person when no one else would. Now they not only have a job, they’re working toward overcoming addiction and bettering themselves.

That other story you did. You know, the one about the kid who got hurt, or picked on, or is battling that disease that now has tons of friends, or got to live out their dream for a day because you shared their story? That one.

Or how about that housing development where all of the residents were suffering from the same thing but didn’t know until you told the community, now it’s being fixed? Yeah, those people notice.

Those people are who we do this job for. Not some shiny plaque that will end up on a shelf or on a wall, then eventually in the trash or in storage.

Our job is about people. It’s about community. It’s not about us.

Have I had to remind myself of these things on multiple occasions? Oh yeah. Don’t feel bad for thinking those negative thoughts or asking those angry questions. We all have.

However, you have to realize that you CAN and DO make a difference… but you don’t need an award to prove it. So, after your pity party, get back up, dust off your camera, and get back to work.

Find your next high. Help someone else.

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  1. I’m assuming this article is talking about Emmy awards – which are worthless. I’m willing to bet the NATAS is going to stop doing them within 10 years. The judging is arbitrary, biased and the video player they use for judging is way outdated.

    This article is meant for the Mizzou/Cronkite/USC/Northwestern J-School grads who think an Emmy is the pinnacle of success.

    1. This made me LOL. Don’t forget Berkeley grads.

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