August 16, 2002

Cats in Beakers and a

Cats in Beakers and a Warning to Journalists

When did it become standard photography practice that, to visually augment a news article about a cloned cat, it's widely understood that you place a kitten in a beaker? Granted, it's impossibly cute, but really, it's not as if the kitten somehow was mixed in the beaker and then just miraculously coalesced right there in 2000 ML of liquid. Other areas of interest to note in the article include the insanely large cat atop its owner's shoulder and the extremely funny line: Now, they pay a monthly fee to bank Spot's skin cells, and look forward to the day when they may stroke his clone. I could go for a good clone stroking right about now.

The tumultuous ride continues here at IBM eServer Magazine, with the senior editor announcing his resignation, effective Friday, Aug. 23. What does this mean for me? More work for the same pay probably. *grumble, grumble* To any aspiring journalists out there, just let me offer these words of wisdom learned in just four years out of college: Run, do not walk, out of whatever journalism class you may be attending right now and declare a major in something, anything, absolutely anything else. May I suggest post-Inca Peruvian Culture Anthropology or possibly Assistant Crack Whore studies. Just don't do journalism. It's not worth it. Examples of my journalism degree working for me include:

1.) Nine months working as a reporter for the Winona Daily News, otherwise known as severe grunt work, raking in the paltry sum of $6 an hour. You read that right. Poverty anyone? Actually, I envied people living in poverty because they had it so good.

2.) Ten months working as news editor for a weekly newspaper called the Stewartville Star. Duties included reporting on every possible aspect of a 5,000 population city, including the always suspenseful city council and school board meetings. I learned enough about tax increment financing districts and teacher contract negotiations to last me a lifetime, while rolling in just over $11 an hour. Now I could look down at the people living in poverty while still envying those who were merely starving. Plus side? I got to take pictures and develop my own black and white images in a darkroom, which is totally relaxing work. The people I worked with were great, and it was at the Star that I started writing my weekly humor column that continues to this day.

3.) Two years working as a technical editor responsible for editing the content of IBM technical manuals. This was, quite possibly, the Great Poombah of all boring jobs, combing through technical material so involved, Einstein would have suffered a stroke. The trick was to keep sentence structure in mind without absorbing the actual information, while at the same time keeping your hatred of your manager in check just enough so you didn't belt her over the head with your keyboard and toss her down the hall. This girl redefined anal retentiveness, all the way down to her name, Jenifer, with one N. And don't you dare call her Jen, or she'll go off on some rant that can only be deciphered by others of her species. Thankfully, her species no longer exists because they kept eating their own young. Jenifer survived because nothing as foul as her could possibly be ingested. But I digress. Now I was making the big bucks, $15.25 an hour. And then IBM laid me off, and then hired me back a month later at $18 an hour as. . .

4.) News Editor of eServer Magazine, where I've been for about a year. I like this job. I'm good at this job. Jenifer is nowhere near this job. Everyone I work with is nice. Quirky, yes, but nice. I write articles, and I write product news pieces based on new and enhanced products geared toward IBM servers. I'm left largely to myself to get my work done, without the pedantic eye of certain Jenifers looking over my shoulder. I was just starting to remember why journalism was my college choice when this whole shake-up with the magazine started about four months ago. I'll ride it out and see what happens, but things aren't looking good. *gloom*

Posted by Ryan at August 16, 2002 10:00 AM
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