Journalists don’t have a lot of free time. If they date you, they must really like you. I consider myself extra special because I was able to get a journalist to fit me in her abundant agenda filled with interviews, writing, meetings and editing all the time. While I do feel special, there was also a lot I learned by dating Christina Morales for more than two years during her Alligator career.
I didn’t know much about journalism before meeting Christina, let alone about girls because I went to an all-boys Catholic high school. All I knew about the news was that my parents were subscribers of the Tampa Bay Times and that the movie “Spotlight” was a masterpiece.
Christina and I study two completely different subjects. I study economics and she writes. While I struggle to spell, I have to teach Christina how to find a derivative of a function. I taught Christina that college guys can cook almost anything. I don’t know if Christina is joking when she goes to football games and asks me how many points a touchdown is.
But she’s taught me a lot, too.
First off, I learned pretty early that journalists can be intimidating. If you walk into The Alligator’s office, you would’ve seen a 5-foot-nothing Latina editor-in-chief eating a pastelito at her desk. But don’t let that fool you; this lady is fierce.
I learned that Christina is determined to have The Alligator bulletproof to the best of her ability. Before COVID-19, Christina would spend three days a week at the office working with her staff editing the paper. While the office is closed, The Alligator is still printing. Christina continues to edit throughout the night. If you are interested in a journalist and wondering why they left you on read, don’t worry — you’re not ugly. The odds are that they probably haven’t slept in days, so they are taking their time off to sleep and dream about their next interview.
From my experience, it is in your best interest to let journalists sleep. I try to make sure to give Christina plenty of sleep time for my own safety. People are always asking her for favors, piling on more tasks that she was not expecting in her day. I know if I added something to her list with already a million things to do I would earn my ticket to heaven way earlier than I would like.
When print nights go past 2 a.m., Christina reminds me of a character from the Snickers campaign, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” So instead of asking Christina annoying questions like, “Can you edit my economics research paper right now?” I cook her dinners, bake pretzels, make ice cream and deliver her comfort food to the office. Before making my food deliveries, I went through Christina’s Miami Spotify playlist and found the perfect Latin song to blast in The Alligator’s parking lot. I showcased my average dance moves.
So far, my biggest enemy in dating Christina is breaking news. Sometimes, I feel like breaking news is an ex-boyfriend trying to get their old relationship back. If a story breaks during a romantic dinner at La Tienda when we’re stuffing our faces with chips and salsa, sorry, breaking news has won. It might win some battles, but I always win the war.
Aside from the frequent naps and constant ringing of her phone, there is a lot to love about Christina. She has a great sense of humor and gives the best hugs. She can be weird sometimes and go on hour-long tangents about a topic, repeating the same thing but somehow finding different words to describe it.
Before she publishes a story of her own she makes sure to get opinions from various people, including her mom and me. I get excited, but sometimes I am surprised that she wants me to review her drafts because before meeting Christina, I was confused about how to use “to,” “too” and “two” properly.
Journalists are not perfect, including Christina. Mistakes do happen, but Christina does everything she can to avoid them. Even though The Alligator is a student newspaper, Christina and the rest of the staff take it as seriously as any other major news outlet. People can be overly critical of journalists and blame them for things they have no control over. When Christina makes an error, it upsets her just as much as some readers. Instead of getting down on herself, she learns from it.
However, sometimes instead of pointing out a problem respectfully, people can sometimes make their comments toxic. Christina has received racist emails about how her Latina descent makes her stories biased when writing about immigration or how she and The Alligator are fake news. It is frustrating to know there are people who take time out of their day to put others down with personal attacks that have no business being said.
It is important for people to know you are not always going to like what you read, but without the news, this country would be much worse off. It’s something else I don’t think I would’ve learned if I didn’t date Christina.
Right now, Christina is leading The Alligator on COVID-19 stories. With the constant updates from health experts and local governments, Christina has been busier than ever. I’ve never seen Christina drink so much coffee — two sugars and a splash of Coffeemate vanilla creamer.
But without journalism, the virus would damage more lives than it already has. Journalists break the silence on important issues taking place in the world today. I am thankful to live in a country that values the freedom of the press because I’ve learned that it makes my daily life much better.
I want to encourage whoever is reading this to send a thank-you email to a journalist and show them your appreciation. I guarantee it will make their day, like it will Christina’s.
Tyler Pratt is a food and resource economics senior and the boyfriend of Christina Morales, The Alligator’s editor-in-chief.