Friday, August 21, 2009

Five words: Journalism

Continuing from the last post, the second word I received was journalism. First off, Journalism is a big place there buddy, like Latin. Points if you get my reference.

I have said before that in my past life, before motherhood kidnapped me, I was in journalism. It was a low-paying, long-hours job that sometimes seemed insane, but I couldn't give up because I love to write and really, it was fun at times to spin out stories with a set assignment.

That being said, I recently have had people ask me if I plan to return to freelancing or journalism any time soon. I said right now I'm on a break. Why? Because right now journalism and news media seem to be at a major crossroads and the result right now is that I'm not going to get paid.

As of July, 13,000 journalists lost their jobs. That means that there's 13,000 freelance writers that I have to compete with now. Not to mention the fact that many major blogs like the Huffington Post, expect writers to contribute for free. Which is bullshit. If they're making millions, they should be able to kick some cash down to the contributors. Pageviews don't pay the bills ya'll.

I had a little freelancing thing, but since advertising seems to have dried up in this economy, I don't see that coming anytime soon. Not to mention what I said earlier about a hell of a lot more competition. Dammit.

In addition, newspapers seem to be waking up to the fact that there's this thing call the Internet and *gasp* social media, which is messing with their news cycle. Instead of relying on major talking heads for their information, people are getting it from different areas. I think it says something when people were relying on Twitter to get news about the Iran election, whereas the major news outlets seemed to be covering Twitter covering Iran.

I think that most people are showing dissatisfaction for the current news format and the major media corporations. It says something when most people say they trust the Daily Show more than CNN. Perhaps its because we're all jaded and have a skewed view of the world. Or perhaps its that we as a people aren't happy with the way the 24-hour news cycle works, which is to drum up and make news to fill space.

All in all, right now is a tough time to be a journalist as a profession. There wasn't much money in the business in the first place, and that's drying up more. But before budding journalists start to stick their head in the oven, I have to add that this is also an interesting time.

It's uncertain, of course, much like the Tower card in a Tarot deck. I will admit I'm not sure how it will shake out in the end, but I see the major media fragmenting in a way and hopefully the rise of some more independent media.

I hope that the end result is also journalists getting paid. If journalists don't get enough money to pay the bills and cover their expenses, they will have to take other jobs or leave the industry. And as a result, there's not enough experienced journalists or enough resources to ferret out the truth in investigative journalism. And that's a damn shame, because without that, journalism is nothing but a joke.

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