By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)
It’s once again that polarizing time of year known as Valentine’s Day. Some feel it is a time for people to unleash their feelings and let their loved one know how they feel about them. Others think the “holiday” is a cruel corporate joke.
Either way there is one thing that we can all agree on: It is not easy to woo a journalist. They are often curious, busy, outgoing, professional beings and normally on a deadline. If you have your eyes on a journalism student, here are a few tips on how to win him or her over this Valentine’s Day.
Spell check your love letters
When you are sending your potential lover a Facebook message or a text make sure you spell everything correctly. Nothing turns off journalism students more than using the wrong there/their/they’re or neglecting punctuation. It may sound superficial, but it’s true. Poor spelling is an unattractive quality that can cost you a date. I can’t remember how many times a friend said something to me like, “Tom, I can’t date him. He spelled ‘tomorrow’ with one ‘R.’ It’s not happening.”
Don’t blame journalism students though. We’ve been trained to spot an error a mile away. It’s in our blood.
My heart isn’t on my sleeve, it’s on CNN
Along with writing, journalists have a passion for the news. Heck, we’re the ones writing the news. Don’t be surprised if you find a journalist’s room covered in newspapers or if they are busy at 5:30 p.m. because they need to watch “ABC World News.” Most journalists have a borderline addiction to knowing the most recent breaking stories, so if you only read the “Busted” section of the Advance-Titan, don’t be surprised if a journalist “forgets” to return your phone calls.
This means that you need to do your homework and stay up on current events. Find articles online, watch CNN, and if you’re really hardcore, pick up a newspaper. We want to be able to have conversations about current events, so if you don’t know the difference between John Boehner and Joe Biden, you’re in trouble.
Make us twitterpated
In this day and age, journalists have to use the Web and social media to find and spread news in a quick and effective manner. Your Associated-Press paramour will probably be impressed if you are familiar with information-sharing sites like Twitter and blogging. But don’t overshare.
Avoid clogging up our newsfeeds by tweeting every two minutes and updating your Facebook status every five. Leaving some mystery will keep your crush guessing, but tweeting every single thought you have will make us simply guess, “Why am I dating you?” Censor your tweets, keep your profiles appropriate and don’t upload 47 new photos of yourself daily. These sites are used to communicate, not suffocate, so don’t abuse it.
Forgive us, we’re freaks
While I referred to journalists as “curious, busy, outgoing, professional beings,” others may call us freaks. And that term might be accurate as well. Sometimes we’re hyper social butterflies that can’t stop talking, other times we’re neurotic news geeks that would much rather be read than heard or seen. So be prepared.
Journalists can be an emotional and interesting bunch. We’re going to freak out when Associated Press changes the way to write “website,” we will go on rants when we see the phrase, “ATM machine,” and we will uncontrollably sob when we realize we misspelled a word in a published story we wrote.
Do your best to bear with us. Sometimes you’ll have to fake empathy and you’ll quickly become a patient listener.
I guess in the end we’re both at fault. We have extremely high expectations and look for very specific qualities in people, but if you promise to forgive our obsessive tendencies and hectic schedules, we’ll forgive you for not knowing who Hosni Mubarak is.