Zombies in the Newsroom: In which I compare journalism to the undead apocalypse

When I realized that it’s been almost a month since my last post, the little minion in my head said, “WHAAAAT?

IT’S SO FLUFFY!

In my defense, I haven’t ceased blogging entirely this semester. I’ve just committed treason changed venues to VoxTalk. And trust me, blogging twice a week for Vox‘s daily blog isn’t a vacation by any stretch. Except for when I live blog The Walking Dead with fellow editor Briana Altergott. There’s nothing more fun than that.

Except for maybe being an ex-Boondock Saint who’s now hunting zombies with a crossbow while wearing this poncho.

But with the pressure of writing the first blog post in a month and already being more than 200 words in, I still have nothing to write about. And everything to write about. And GAH, WHY IS THIS SO HARD ALL OF A SUDDEN?

In the spirit of The Walking Dead being on tonight, I was going to present the short story that I started last November about what would happen (in my twisted imagination) if zombies/walkers/infected attacked the Missourian. With the help of my Photoshop-savvy roommate, Rae Lijewski, this picture of Lee Hills Hall should make up for the 1,000 words the story was going to be:

This may or may not be my new wallpaper and Facebook cover photo.

Okay, massive copout. The story’s still half-unwritten. So instead I’ll give you a little look into how I as a person would deal with a zombie apocalypse based on how I perform as a journalist, student, daughter, sister, friend, etc. Dive, Captain, dive! Things are about to get deep.

We all live in a zombie submarine.

I like to think of myself as way more assertive and badass than I actually am, so when I devised the original plot line where I get bit while saving a friend, say goodbye to those I love and go on a massive Devil-may-care zombie killing spree before my (as of yet nonexistent) true love shoots me in the head while blinking back man-tears, it was, if anything, wishful thinking.

In reality, I see myself as talking through the options with my fellow survivors, if time allows. That’s what I do when we’re doing the Monday Scramble Dance to get a set of stories ready for an upcoming issue. Now, if a group of flesh-eating infected come knocking on the door, jawing over strategy with the Knights of the Vox Table might not be the most intelligent option.

Instead, I’d be the first to volunteer to lead, if only because my ambition requires it. There’s a sickness called Can’t-Stop-Volunteering-Itis, and I’ve had it all semester. Can anyone write this blurb? Me! Emergency feature editor needed? Me! Dishes in the sink? Me! I’d just hope that there’d be a team behind me willing to accept my failures and able to step up when needed. I feel like I have that with the people I work with, and I’ve always known that about my family and friends. Even when half the world has gone brain-hungry, I expect this to be true (unless, or course, one of them has been infected).

When it comes to putting down loved ones if/once they’ve become infected, I don’t know if I could do it. In some respects, I’m far too concerned with keeping people happy and making sure people like me. Call me a zombie-pleaser, but I’d still feel bad shooting a ravenous monster in the head. On the other hand, I know you’ve got to crack some skulls eggs to make an omelet, so who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t hesitate if it meant staying safe or sparing someone I love from becoming a flesh-eating creature.

And in the case of a kill, I’d probably be the biggest klutz you’d ever seen, because while I’ve got fantastic yoga balance, I haven’t had time to hone my knife-to-skull coordination. But in my head I’d still probably look pretty tough:

Like this.

Now, if that doesn’t speak volumes about my uncrushable ego, I don’t know what would. I admit it’s my failing that I feel like I look a lot cooler than I do in many situations. Then pictures go up on Facebook and I realize that, well, maybe I’m not that awesome. It’s the same thing in my professional life; there are times when I think I’ve handled something with great finesse, but then get told that it was the wrong thing to do, or realize that it didn’t work out in the way I expected. Sometimes the second draft of a story isn’t as good as I thought it would be because I didn’t send clear enough edits to the reporter, or one of the sources I recommended ended up not having much to say. I see that, realize I wasn’t as helpful as I thought was, and go on to try to improve the next time.

That’s the story of my life, really. Every mistake I make or epiphany I have pushes me to get better. I feel like I’m beating a dead (possibly half-eaten) horse here, but I really believe learning from mistakes is key. Like a zombie apocalypse, in journalism you don’t get many second chances — once something’s printed or someone’s brain is eaten, there’s nothing that can really be done — but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the experience.

And we should, because doing so separates us from the (wo)men and the boys, the living and the (un)dead. The brained and the brainless.

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