The alarm clock goes off, and the reporter slams the snooze button, fighting for every last minute in the safe cocoon of his bed. He used to throw back the covers and jump into the shower, ready to seize the day and tell the world a story. But now the career has turned into a job, one that has become increasingly painful. Not because he hates reporting. On the contrary, he loves being a journalist.
It's because he's taken too many shots at work. All of them psychological.
He finally drags himself out of bed, walking like an old man of 70, and later feels his blood pressure rise steadily as he pulls into the station parking lot. He feels like a quarterback who's gonna get sacked, and most of the shots he'll take will come from the blind side.
Not from management. From other members of the staff.
Every boxer takes a lot of hits, hence, the need for a "cut man" who can patch things up between rounds. The most famous would be Mickey from the Rocky movies, a guy who could not only repair physical damage but rebuild confidence after shots to the psyche.
Newsrooms can be a lot like a boxing ring, if you're in a dysfunctional shop. And many times said dysfunction has absolutely nothing to do with the News Director. Co-workers can be the most vicious people you'll encounter along the way. They might be jealous, afraid you're trying to take their jobs, hate the fact that you were born good looking, or just resent the lack of dues you've paid. Doesn't matter.
They love to blitz from the blind side, hitting you with a cutting remark that will ruin your day, stick in your craw, and gnaw at your confidence.
If this happens to you on a regular basis, you need a cut man.
As creative souls we are wired differently than the rest of the world. Most of us can be very sensitive when it comes to our work. We might have all sorts of awards and make a great salary in a nice market, but we still cringe when someone says something nasty. And we'll often take that comment home and let it ruin the rest of the day.
That's when you call in your cut man. Someone who can build you up and remind you you're talented. Someone honest enough to give you constructive criticism when you need it, while also telling you that you knocked out a great story when it happens. Someone you can talk with about anything, someone who always has a shoulder to cry on, someone who knows what makes you tick.
I'm not talking about Mom or Dad. They think their kid should be at the network from day one.
Your cut man might be a close friend, or another co-worker who values your work and friendship.
And by the way, you can be a cut man yourself. If you see someone getting psychologically beaten up day after day, step in, fix the cut, and shove them back in the ring with more confidence that what they had when they left.
Sometimes life in a newsroom can be a breeze, and sometimes it can feel like a street fight. You may think you can survive on your own, but you really can't. A good friend is your strongest defense against those things that can bring you down.