Column: Date a reporter? You can do better

Jun. 09, 2014 @ 09:57 AM

Attention, single people: If you meet a reporter through online dating site eHarmony, run the other way.

Not because reporters make bad partners — not that I’m saying they make good ones, either — but because eHarmony put out a list last week of the “15 reasons to date a reporter,” and little on the list resembles the people in any newsroom I ever worked in or passed through, so I question whether the reporters on eHarmony are telling the truth about their occupation.

For instance, it says, “Reporters are usually self-employed and have flexible schedules.” What?! A self-employed reporter is usually an unemployed reporter, and for a reporter, “flexible schedule” most often means he or she will have to cancel a date to go cover a story.

“You’ll be getting a great Scrabble partner” — or you would, if he could spell. Newsrooms are full of dictionaries for a reason.

“Reporters meet deadlines”? When I worked in Winston-Salem, reporters’ deadlines were observed mainly in the breach. I have never heard another editor say that isn’t the norm.

“Reporters make great dates to parties and family events, as they’re great at asking questions and engaging others in conversation.” Hmmm. I have known such extroverted reporters, many of them TV reporters, but most newspaper journalists are introverts. We got into the business because we’re writers, not talkers. We learn to ask questions of strangers because it’s required by the work, but it doesn’t come naturally, and on our own time we’d rather not.

I well remember a party that a co-worker’s nonjournalist spouse gave years ago, where she invited a bunch of her nonjournalist friends in addition to her husband’s journalist co-workers. All the journalists gathered together and talked shop in a corner while the party went on without them elsewhere in the house. Afterward, she berated the entire newsroom for their behavior. Date a reporter and expect that, then be happy if your experience is not quite that bad.

“Your date will remember your birthday, the way you like your coffee, and that promise you made her last week.” Sure, just don’t ask my wife how reliable my memory is when it comes to events she has even written down on the calendar on our refrigerator.

“Repor-ters get invitations to swanky events” so you can “hobknob with the mayor and other local celebrities.” A reporter’s “invitation” usually translates into an assignment to cover the event and write about it. Little hobknobbing there, and free passes for spouses or dates are not included.

But the worst reason the list gave to date a reporter was saved for last: “Clark Kent. Enough said.”

Enough? Not nearly. I have to wonder whether the list-maker ever paid attention to the comics. Clark was a schlub. No one ever wanted to date Clark Kent, intrepid reporter. They only had eyes for Superman.