When they say news is 24/7, they, whoever they are, mean it. That is why whether it be Christmas, Fourth of July,Yom Kippur or National Hotdog Day (which is July 23 for all you non-hotdog enthusiasts) there will be a journalist toiling inside a newsroom.
Working holidays is just one of the sacrifices journalists have to make to have the privilege to report the news.
A typical holiday inside a newsroom consists of the sole journalist on duty strolling in two to five hours later than usual and in attire even less professional than the journalist’s normal wardrobe. Then it’s on to checking the police scanner and rummaging through the office refrigerator seeing what people left behind during the long weekend. The editor on call then proceeds to give the journalist anywhere from two to 12 story assignments to fill the next day’s paper.
And if it’s a holiday that includes a parade, it’s a sure thing the journalist is covering it. After, it’s back to the desk to try to punch out an anecdotal lede about a four-year-old’s first time at a parade – as not to re-write the previous year’s anecdotal lede about an 80-year-old woman who has never missed said parade. And as the shift draws to an end, the working journalist just prays that nothing regarding shootings, stabbings or fatal car crashes comes across the police scanner as he or she makes it for the door. It usually does.
Deciding who works upcoming holidays inside a newsroom is a battle of the excuses. Senior journalists will cry seniority while other journalists will argue they had to work the last 12 holidays. Without a valid argument or excuse, the duty typically falls to the last journalist hired.
Working holidays is a rite of passage for journalists. In addition to giving journalists another thing to gripe about, it makes them appreciate the one holiday a year they don’t have to work.
Mail carriers may work through rain, sleet and hail but come a federal holiday, ain’t no one getting their mail. But 365 days a year, readers demand their newspaper, news updates, blogs, RSS feeds and cartoon strips and journalists, obliging, will always be there, grinding out the news.