Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mind your health new journalists & video journalists

So your good cholesterol looks OK, but lets look at your what we call bad cholesterol, Mmmm!

Head now cocked to one side, trying to rationalise what "mmm" meant, the doctor came back with the other whammy: "I'm going to recommend a diet".

I'm a 175 pounds, 12.5 stones to us English folk, eat my greens and every Saturday ingratiate myself into an aerobic class as one of the three token males amongst forty women.

"What's going on?"

I make no secret about my eating habits to friends and family. Once where I might have been ribbed as "difficult", almost everyone understands that when I say "no" to my favourite "fried plantain and beans" or Palm oil ( whoah!), I mean "no".

In the last two years I have finally given up sugar and salt. My taste buds are screwed. About the only thing I can openly crave for is umami - the recently discovered fifth taste.

So hearing the doc say "diet" is like saying "pilots belt" in a car when I'm already strung down with a seat belt.

But the news was underscored by some good feedback. Whatever I was doing for the last couple of years was very good. The lapse has been lately.

Watch what you eat
I know its cause: travel and international food are at its root.

In South Africa recently my hosts mirthed over my decisions for water-based beverages rather than the alcoholic kind. In Egypt, I completely lost focus and went mad over fried falafels and koftas.

I have come to know my body and the minute it whiffs oily or sugar foods, it defies chemistry's last frontier and goes into fusion mode manufacturing great quantities of its own.

But this story underpins a wider issue of health amongst journalists and videojournalists in particular.

The latter first. In VJ world you're everything, so if you're after the exclusive or need to fight to get to the front of the pack and then double back for tracking interviews, you have to be fit.

And often that can involves a fast sprint or a fair good run with your equipment on your back.

Few Vjs will make a deal about it, but quietly after a shoot, they're shot mentally and physically.

And it's small wonder you've been prescribed statins, when the canteen thinks the EU butter mountain is yours to consume.

Healthy Days
In times, now almost a flicker of the past, London's journalism landmark Fleet street heaved to erstwhile banter in the pub after a shift.

It still does elsewhere, but not in the same vein many will tell you compared with the excess days of the pre-80s when drinking was part of the game and a bag of dripping fish and chips substantiated your journalism credentials.

Indeed them were good days, lost in translation as "what you didn't know, didn't hurt". Curries, Yeah; Spotted Dick, Yeah; a fag to line those lungs, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

Not any more. Now there are new concerns to consider.

At Channel One TV, the company hired an in-house chiropractor to sort out videojournalists with back problems. With most of journalism being screen-based, there are health warnings for the amount of time taken staring at the screen and also maintaining the right posture.

The pressures and stress to complete a job are silent punishers. Missing that interview quickens the pulse. But such is the clamour to become a journalist that these issues can often be overlooked.

The so called "death march", the stock-in-trade for the computer world finds itself in journalism all the time.

"I haven't slept in five days", you can often here journalists gloating over their mocca.

"I'm a %$£&* insomina" says another, the truest badge of honour - which draws huge admiration.

The DIY culture has and will continue to yield less monitored practices that aren't part of the words and pictures that go on the screen. And social proofing confirms amongst managers that everything is hunkedoree.

"See Mary over there people, she's the first in and last out. We love Mary".

Fortunately Mary's also minding her greens.