David Joachim ‘caught the bug’ for journalism, finding success through hard work and mistakes

Photo credit: Todd Cross

Photo credit: Todd Cross

Picture, if you will, the Pelham train station in fall. Early in the morning, the platform is crowded with silent commuters, not quite awake or ready to face the world. Barely anyone looks up from their phones to witness the sun rising, illuminating the greens and pale yellows of trees just beginning to turn. The steady crescendo of the approaching Metro-North breaks the spell, and the commuters are swept away to the subways, brisk walks, and podcasts that rule their commutes.

How many people do you see on your commute? Hundreds? Thousands? A better question may be, how many of them do you know? Our minds are often unable to grasp the fact that everyone we pass on the street has a life and a story to tell. Pelhamite and journalist David Joachim does an excellent job of reminding us that everyone you pass is just as complex as you are in his short podcast, “Faces: A Sound-Rich Podcast.”

Joachim “caught the bug” for journalism when he was first introduced to it 28 years ago in college, and has been doing it ever since. Joachim currently works for Bloomberg news, overseeing financial investigations as an editor. Previously, he taught business reporting at George Washington University and worked as an editor and reporter for the New York Times, covering Wall Street and Washington.

Joachim didn’t always want to be a journalist. Like many young adults, he went into college with the idea of obtaining a liberal arts degree without being sure of what exactly to major in.

“A friend of mine introduced me to the college newspaper,” said Joachim. “At the time I cared a lot about politics, so I envisioned writing all these high-minded stories about politics, (and) next thing you know the editor of the paper is giving me real assignments to go out and cover stories.”

From there, Joachim formed a tight relationship with journalism. “I just caught the bug immediately, I loved it,” he said. “Everything about it. There’s a whole line of lawyers and journalists going back in my family and so I guess it was in the blood, in my wiring.”

Shortly after his initial introduction to journalism, Joachim realized he wanted to pursue it as a career.

“I had a friend who would work on the paper, and he would check out at midnight,” he said. “I’d stay till four, five, six in the morning to get it done, and that’s when he said he knew it was what I wanted to do for a living because I cared about it that much.”

Journalism is a daunting career. To go speak to random people about things that aren’t your business? Most people would prefer to opt out.

“My advice for people who want to do it (is) just do it,” he said. “The thing about being a journalist is there’s no professional degree. I don’t even like the term ‘professional journalist’, because it conveys this idea that you need a certification. Everybody can be a journalist. Anyone can pick up a pen, a recorder, and perform an act of journalism. So the important thing is to go out and do it, because every time you do, you’re going to get better.”

Joachim pointed out that like with any skill, hard work beats talent.

“They didn’t hire me at Bloomberg or the times or anywhere else because I was some kind of literary genius,” he said. “It was because I’d made those news judgments hundreds and thousands of times—until I understood what the stakes were, and the soft spot of good decisions. I knew what the bad decisions were because I’d made mistakes. So that’s my best advice. The way to learn how to do journalism is to do journalism.”

This is perhaps the most honest and difficult thing about learning any skill. To do something, and do it well, you must work at it. Put in the hours, stay up as late as it requires, make a mistake, break down, get a full night’s rest and get up ready to try again. Rinse and repeat. Learning is an amazing concept because it’s both boundless and perfectly fair. You get out what you put in.

You can find more of Joachim’s videos and other media on his YouTube channel and his website.