Our columnist spills the beans on the newsroom caffeine junkies.
It’s not often journalists top the lists for anything – except perhaps quite unfairly for being among the nation’s most hated people just below politicians.
However, I recently read a report which revealed us news gatherers are top of the coffee drinking league table.
We even reportedly drink much more coffee than other caffeine addicts in the Top 10 including police officers (too busy chomping doughnuts), teachers (have plenty of confiscated sweets to scoff) and plumbers and trade workers (probably happier filling up on tea and biscuits).
It seems journalists are so stressed out trying to meet their deadlines, the only way to cope is to throw regular doses of caffeine down their neck.
It is suggested there is a strong link between being overstretched and working long hours, and consuming copious amounts of caffeine.
While I often treat the results of most surveys with cynicism and usually ask: “Exactly which 100 people did they question?”, looking around the newsroom at LEP Towers, I have to admit there is more than a coffee grain of truth in these findings.
We may grumble about the prices of the brews from the coffee machines, and many complain the hot drinks taste like dishwater, but that doesn’t seem to put us off, and there’s no getting away from the fact we are a newsroom of coffee junkies.
In fact the other month, our Editor looked considerably fearful she might have a mutiny on her hands when both brew machines in the newsroom were out of action for at least a couple of hours.
Apart from the odd one or two healthy types, or those who just don’t like hot drinks, the rest of us are living up to the reputation of coffee crazed freaks.
I count myself as one of them as, although I hardly ever make a hot drink at home, during the working day, I seem to need several cups of coffee to keep me going.
Some of it is just habit. At other times, it’s to warm your hands up ready for another spate of frenzied typing. And a lot of the time, I think it’s just a subconscious excuse to give yourself a couple of minutes’ break from your screen while you traipse to the vending machine.
Still, when you think of all the other stereotypes there are about journalists (some true, the majority most definitely not), it could be a lot worse.
In the olden days when I was starting out in journalism, all journos had a reputation for being chain-smoking, hardened drinkers who love to party.
Indeed, during work experience at a London daily paper, I remember sitting amid a fug of smoke as the desk of hacks around me puffed away before sloping off for a liquid lunch.
Nowadays, it’s a whole different world. I’m not sure whether we’re more health conscious or just too skint to spend our hard-earned cash on cigarettes, but there are very few smokers in the newsroom. Virtually none among the reporters, unless you count the ones who like the odd “social cigarette” on a night out.
While we like to partake in the odd drink or two, we certainly aren’t raging alcoholics – not on a school night anyway. And, contrary to popular belief, we don’t keep bottles of gin and whisky hidden in our drawers. (I prefer to keep mine in my handbag.)
Other mistaken beliefs about journalists include that we are insensitive and immoral who would do anything to get a story including selling our grandmas. Simply not true at the LEP – we’re a caring and sensitive bunch.
And for those who say we are spin doctors who, at best, bend the truth and, at worst, are plain liars – that is a complete and utter lie!
There are, however, many facts that are TRUE about us newspaper hounds.
We are incredibly fast typists. We have to be – especially when newsdesk tell us they want our story 10 minutes ago.
We are poor.
Most of us drive rubbish cars. (See reference to being poor above).
We will go to any event if free food is promised. (Again, see poverty reference above).
We have appalling diets. (Usually as a result of all the free food we consume).
We are pretty amazing at spelling. (Although you can guarantee when we do get it wrong, there’s always a reader to point it out.)
We are grammar Nazis. (You are is You’re, not YOUR)
The majority of us are terrible at maths. That’s why we are journalists and not accountants.
We swear like sailors. There are some in our newsroom who curse on a regular basis. In fact, my colleague who goes to bed early regularly turns the air blue with her language. She must be storing it up during all that extra sleep.
We’re also surprisingly incompetent at most things outside of journalism. I am rubbish at reading maps (that’s why God invented Sat Navs), I can’t wire a plug and if I attempt to wrap presents, the result is a lumpy package (that’s why God invented gift bags).
But we can write about all these things.
And drink coffee while we do it.