December 04, 2007

The Calling

During my mass communications/journalism classes in college, there were a couple of recurring themes brought up by certain professors who either A) wanted to scare us away or B) saw journalism as a righteous calling.

From the A) crowd, we'd hear: "Don't expect to make money in journalism," which, to their credit, my first newspaper job paid $5.50 an hour, which was raised to a whopping $6 an hour when I was working as a full time reporter. That was followed by about a year working for just over $10 an hour. So, it's not as if there wasn't some truth to their warnings. There's a reason so many journalists tend to drift into public relations and other avenues that can actually put food on the table that isn't government cheese.

From the B) crowd, we were told that journalists aren't in it for the money. We were offered up the standard tripe of "speaking truth to power," which always left me imagining myself reading an encyclopedia to an electrical socket. Believe me, after you've sat through about your fifth city council meeting or your third school board meeting, the concept of speaking truth to power pretty much loses all meaning. You go from "speaking truth to power" to thinking long and hard about "how the hell am I going to write something interesting based off this boring-assed shit?"

Also from the B) crowd came the feel-good nonsense of "comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable." The first time I heard it uttered, I laughed to myself, but after about the fourth time, I found myself irritated enough to raise my hand and ask:

"What happens after you afflict the comfortable? Don't they become afflicted and need to be comforted? This seems like a needlessly endless cycle."

There were some guffaws from my fellow classmates, but the professor didn't seem to be in the least amused. Instead of answering my mostly-facetious question, he want off on some tangent about the priviledged wealthy class and how they need a check on their status, or some such blatherating. I wasn't paying very close attention, since the Internet had just become available in classrooms, and I was looking for pictures of Angie Everhart naked, which I found to be far more satisfying than speaking truth to power, afflicting the comfortable, or comforting the affflicted.

Besides, I went into journalism because I could write fairly decent and sucked at math, which is probably why 70 percent of journalists go down that path to begin with.

Posted by Ryan at December 4, 2007 12:12 PM | TrackBack
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