Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A fine time to write

Maybe only the journalists in the room will care about this, but Gawker has come up with a (tongue-in-cheek?) guide for those oh-so idealistic writers coming out of college who don't want to cash unemployment checks for too long.

In a few words, it's tough out there. Here's what Gawker has to say about my particular field - newspapers:

Forget it. Really. This is the worst place of all to either be employed, or be looking for employment. An easy rule of thumb: only the very top and the very bottom of the newspaper industry even have a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel. National papers—NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, USA Today—at least have strong enough brands to possibly pull through and prosper in the future. Tiny local papers are okay, since they have no internet competition to speak of. But every city paper in the population range from Spokane to Chicago is going to get slammed hard for the forthcoming future.

Not the best job prospect. (Except in India. Print is exploding there! If you like naan as much as journalism, buy yourself a plane ticket).

I might totally disagree with this analysis were it not partially true. However, I still think talent, versatility and determination will take you a long way in this field, which is true in a number of other ones with the possible exception of investment banking.

Journalism has taken me to almost every corner of the country, infused my life with people and experiences that I'll always cherish, allowed me to live out my lifelong dream of writing for a living (an honest one, at that) and paid me just enough for three squares (sometimes, only two) and a cot. That's more than most men could ever hope to ask for.

I wouldn't trade it - the experience - for anything. Any of it, even the days when I get twinges of paycheck envy directed at friends with more lucrative gigs. If you've got the heart for the biz, you'd do well to stick out the tough times, tilt at the windmills and, like a Boy Scout, be prepared for the changes.

And, most importantly, have a Plan B

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