Posts Tagged ‘Northeastern University’
I started reading “How to Succeed in Journalism…” by journalist, Alexandra Kimball last night and couldn’t stop. This woman had the exact same ideas about journalism and middle class integrity as I did as a student and in my post-graduate attempt at becoming a writer.
Furthermore she had me at the following confession:
“During my years of undergrad—years that were more about juggling waitress jobs than enjoying campus life—I began to hear that journalism was changing, becoming more competitive. But, naive as I was, I thought that meant I’d be OK: as long as I worked hard, I could compete.” ~Kimball
That was me! She really captivated me in her story and her writing style. It was so relatable! Perhaps it was the years of longing to be a journalist coming though in her words or perhaps it was her naiveté. I too so wholeheartedly believed I would be a great journalist, a war correspondent no less! I had the passion, the drive and was a hard worker, but I didn’t have a plan and I didn’t take in to account the changing industry.
Anyway, Kimball hits on a point that despite my struggles in the industry I never considered.
Journalism is now a profession for the well-off.
When I graduated, the girls I knew that majored in journalism who got industry related jobs were working for Celtics television, were working their way up for some online fashion publication or were unpaid interns at trendy publications in NYC, something I couldn’t afford and furthermore, was not the way I wanted to go with my journalism degree.
These girls are now incredibly successful in their respective different journalism jobs. But this was not the route I wanted to take. And perhaps, shame on me, for fantasizing about the glory days of journalism and war correspondents.
The paid journalists that I truly admired, like Maureen Dowd, had been in the industry for years and were already at the top. If you weren’t at the top, you were most likely either an unpaid intern or barely making it on your newspaper wages.
When I was at Northeastern University majoring in journalism, every year an insane percentage was released indicating the amount of jobs at the Boston Globe that had been eliminated. From the time I went in to college to the time I graduated, the jobs at the Globe had almost been cut in half.
There is simply very little money in print journalism.
Which leaves room for three types of print journalists: unpaid interns, the middle guys working their butts off and making an average salary and long time and/or legendary reporters working for organizations like The New York Times or Vanity Fair.
The lack of jobs and funds for print journalism has created the culture Kimball references in her article.
“To be a writer in this market requires not only money, but a concept of ‘work’ that is most easily gained from privilege.”
What she is getting at is that the old-fashioned, middle class work ethic, in which you major in journalism, write for the school newspaper, get an entry-level newspaper position, put in your dues (aka covering town meetings and writing obits) and work your way up no longer exists.
I would argue that this is applicable for most careers for our generation, not just journalism.
That whole middle class work ethic thing no longer produces wealth. One of my old regulars at the Bistro told me that he recently had read a statistic explaining that my generation will have five different careers with five different positions within each before they retire. In a world that’s constantly technologically advancing and globalizing, it’s not hard to believe. I’m 25 and since graduating from college have been a waitress, a bar tender, an assistant manager, a bar manager, a freelance writer and a social media consultant.
At the end of Kimball’s article she states her fears for the journalism industry becoming a profession held by those with more privilege. She thinks that articles will become more unrelated to the middle and lower classes. However, I disagree.
I think that people with more privilege tend to be more educated. That’s not to say if you aren’t of more well-off means you can’t be extremely educated as well- absolutely not!
I’m saying that I think having more journalism produced by the well-off might not be a bad thing. They aren’t writing out of fear or out of the need to make money. They are writing with clear heads, open minds and open perspectives.
I totally agree with what Kimball is saying, but I think there is a bit of resentment and bitterness in her article.
As someone who will forever be an optimist and also in love with writing and the journalism industry, despite its failures, I can’t help but put the positive spin on Kimball’s article!
Thanks to Tim McGuire for his recent "This I believe" blog post, spelling out his core values and views about journalism, newspapers and the future of media. I think it's helpful, especially in turbulent times, for journalists (or people in any field) to reflect occasionally on what we believe -- core values as well as our beliefs about where our profession and our industry are going.
- "I believe we spend too much time discussing or lamenting whether the journalism that emerges from each wave of disruption is better or worse than what preceded it."
- "I believe nostalgia for journalism of the past interferes with practicing journalism in the present and with improving it for the future."
- "I believe age and generation are irrelevant in selecting leaders for news organizations. Experience has value in leaders, but outlook is more important."