Last night I joined a media panel attended by Greg Moore and others. I recorded the event and took notes, so I’ll have much more to say about it. Here, I wanted to reply to a question somebody asked that I did not answer last night.
A student said that a teacher of hers tried to scare her into not entering journalism. With print publications struggling, the jobs just wouldn’t be available.
Greg Moore sensibly said, “If you’re good, you’ll get paid.” He added that journalism will always be part of the culture.
Wendy Norris, formerly of the Colorado Independent, said that all students should have a “plan B.” I agree with that to a point.
Here’s what I would have said had time permitted.
It is true that journalism is in transition now, with various print publications struggling and with people figuring out how to make journalism pay through the internet. But this is a transitory problem. Moreover, journalism continues to thrive in many quarters, and new opportunities abound.
For many, a variety of careers is consistent with their interests and goals. In such cases, having a “plan B” makes a lot of sense.
But if you’re passionate about journalism, then for God’s sake be a journalist! Don’t worry (primarily) about the money: follow your passion! This life is remarkably short, so don’t reach the end of it with such a fundamental regret as not pursuing the career you love.
Now, there are many different paths a journalist can take. Street news or commentary? Radio, TV, photos, or text? Large corporate publication or independent?
I’ve met people who love music, so they pursue music. They do not all make a living making music. Some work side-jobs. But you can be a journalist, even if you struggle financially and have to work a side-job for some span of time.
In your life you will spend most of your time working in your career. One’s work, one’s central purpose, defines one’s life. Don’t be battered around, aimlessly, by the winds of the times. Define your goals and go for them, relentlessly.