Shy egomaniacs

Stephen Stratford at Quote/Unquote has a nice little post about journalistic introverts and how often the stereotype of the loud beery partygoing journo is belied by the number of rather quiet types who inhabit the industry.

A line in one of the first books I read about journalism, Tim Crouse’s ‘Boys on the Bus’ summed it up – one of the journalists interviewed commented that most journos are “shy egomaniacs”.
A lot of us – especially the print journos – are most at home behind a keyboard. Personally I do my best and clearest thinking when I’m actually in the act of writing, although it helps if I’ve done some thinking (preferably while exercising) beforehand. Not always possible these days, however.
Journalism is also a role. It helped a lot, when I was younger. I was normally a bit of a wallflower in a social situation, but if I had to go and get a story it gave me a reason to talk to people. Very very useful.
It could leave you a little one dimensional though. I remember going to a real social situation, when I was about 19, at a hall in Pukekohe. Got talking to a very attractive woman, thought things seemed to be going reasonably well, until she asked me what I did and I said I was a journalist.
“Oh yes,” she said, and then, with a real edge in her voice: “Is that why you’re interviewing me?”
Ouch.
Time and life experience knocked off my awkwardness. Some of it, anyway.

2 thoughts on “Shy egomaniacs

  1. Thanks, Rob. I always thought I was a rubbish journalist, especially as an interviewer, because I was an introvert, but the Jonathan Rauch piece I linked to makes it clear that shyness and introversion are quite separate. So I was rubbish because I was shy – and my loud beery partygoing sports journalist friend is not. But boy, he is way more of an introvert than me.

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  2. I think introverts often learn not to be shy, but they remain introverts. Shyness is a form of behaviour: introversion is a facet of character.

    One of the great dividing lines between introverts and extroverts is introverts seldom need to have people around (although it does happen) but they often need time alone. Extroverts: the opposite.

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