Evan F. Moore: The journalist’s struggle for work-life balance
This past Father’s Day, I thought about the fear of missing out on parts of my daughter’s life.
My daughter turns 2 in the fall. Due to me being a journalist and a syndicated columnist, I often think about what I’m going to miss as she grows up. It really bothers me.
I knew the score going in. Journalists have a tough job. Especially in the era of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” We often work long hours, and in many cases, the pay and time spent do not balance out. In my case, since I have such a young child who is growing by the day, there’s no such thing as writer’s block. I have to get the job done no matter what.
Our jobs are our identity. Journalism is in my DNA. When I’ve said that I’m going to take a break from writing and answering emails, I’ve never been able to do it. When you’ve found your niche, your passion, it doesn’t go away.
“Do you check email on your day off? Or on vacation? Many employees assume they’re supposed to; others rationalize they want to avoid falling way behind. Just know that every time you do email on your day off, you perpetuate a system that assumes you’re always on the clock,” journalist Butch Ward recently wrote in a column for The Poynter Institute for Media Studies about the toll journalism can take on a writer’s personal relationships. “Do you return messages or emails just before climbing into bed? Or in the middle of the night? Did you accept responsibility for a seven-day work product (Sports section, social media report, etc.) without an assistant?”
When I read that column, it hit home.
This is something I often tell young journalists: There’s going to be times when you’re going to miss birthdays, holidays and other special events due to the demands of the job.
And this past Father’s Day, that happened to me.
Thankfully, my daughter is still at an age where she may not remember that I missed her aunt’s birthday party or why I saw her only briefly on Father’s Day.
But one day, I will tell that her father was trying his best to provide her with the best life possible. And I hope she will understand.
— Evan F. Moore is a syndicated columnist with GateHouse Media. He writes about the intersection of race, violence and culture. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Chicago Tribune and Ebony. Follow him on Twitter @evanfmoore.