The Media Vs. Me Conundrum

June 29, 2020

What does the intersection of your professional versus personal life look like? In this blog post, digital doyenne Erin Hallstrom takes on the question of when is it okay to let your personal self overlap your professional self? 

Have you ever thought about the intersection of your professional life and your personal life? Where does the work version of you stop and the private version of you begin? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Given what we cover on Food Processing, it's hard not to let one thing impact the other. 

It's a weird thing covering the business of the food and beverage industry. On the one hand, I feel much more informed about the ingredients, the processes, the safety measures, etc. than the average consumer. However, it's the consumer side of me that gets tangled up in the should I being buying more or less of that? game.

Professionally, and as a media person, I learned early on in journalism school how to report objectively. I can speak ad nauseam about the inverted pyramid, facts-based journalism, and why you shouldn't bury a lead.  I've watched as my career choice has taken a serious beating over the years. At first we were a dying breed, then we were just considered fake.  I was leaving college right as the internet started to become a thing, so I took it upon myself to learn how to code among many other digitally-savvy things. Over the course of 20+ years, I've evolved into the digital doyenne you see before you.

As the coronavirus took over the world this year, I went from strategist to woman-on-the-street. I suddenly found myself reporting more than I had in the last 15 years. I was helping Pan and Dave write news briefs, I was following something of a COVID beat -- I was doing something that mattered!

As coronavirus took a back seat to other big issues in the world, I hit a stumbling block.

Professional Erin created things like Kick-Ass Women in Food and Influential Women in Manufacturing to give voice to those, much like myself, that were trying to effect change in a field often dominated by people unlike myself. Professional Erin wrote about what the big food companies were doing to combat racism, careful not to inject my opinion in my reporting. Professional Erin was trying to help give voice to those who have not always had a voice.

Private Erin was donating to causes like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Private Erin wants social justice and was working from home around the clock, wanting to attend a protest, but too anxious about COVID to do so. Private Erin donated money while seeking out opportunities to learn.

I've watched as the big food companies have responded to anti-racism efforts. For each press release or item I've read, I've privately let out a resounding 'YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!' while vowing to buy more of that product from here on out. Professionally, I'm trying to watch, listen, and learn what our readers want to hear about.

I've had more conversations about the media and media's role in the last six weeks than I've had my entire career. I've defended my job, my career choice, and the role of news reporting to swaths of people. When it comes to things I'm not an expert on, I watch, I listen, and I learn as much as my eyes and ears can take in every day.  I'm hungry for information so that I can be informed and, in turn, return that favor to our readers. 

Professional Erin will continue reporting on the facts.
Private Erin, though.....she's watching your anti-racism efforts.... and she's buying.

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