Monday, November 28, 2005

And another after 4:30 a.m. writing

"The good ones get out of newspapers. They find something else." -- J.S. at work

-- The context of the previous quote had to do with the insanity that is the newspaper business. People in this business who truly have a gift are the ones who either stay and branch out into other forms of writing, or leave completely. That is, unless it is something he or she actually enjoys.

-- Being in newspapers as an unmarried person is fine, but unless you 1) have a wealthy family, 2) marry someone whose family is rich or 3) marry someone in a higher paying profession that you, how do you expect to survive with a family on a journalist's salary? Entry-level jobs pay anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000. I would say a veteran reporter at a mid-size paper makes $35,000, and the same at a large paper, between $40,000 and $50,000. Higher than that at the biggest of the big. I'm just guessing. When it comes down to it, it's dream home (or any house, for that matter) that you'll never own on a journalist's salary vs. dream job that you might never get.

-- Newspapers can beat a person down. Especially talking about sports, the negative feedback comes from all directions. Fans, parents, coaches, players. If one is happy with you, another group feels it has a reason to hate you. You can never make everyone happy at the same time. Most of those I know take it well, but I can see a slight cringe they read an angry e-mail. In the end, there is only so much a person can take before it starts to become a burden.

-- Right now, I find it funny when an irrational parent calls me about a spelling mistake I did not make and blames ME for maybe costing her Little Johnny a scholarship to the big university. I doubt any college coaches are reading the statistical agate in my paper when choosing who to recruit. Just a guess. The whole thing is a little annoying, yes, but it also allows me to laugh at just how irrational and blind to reality some people are. (But they're not all like that, fortunately. Most aren't. The few give the whole a bad reputation.)

-- Some people stay in newspapers so long because their personalities are such that they could not function and do well at another job. Most jobs are not condusive to bitter, angry people. Newspapers, for some strange reason, seem to be. Whether it is the daily deadlines that push them to use their anger in a productive manner, I don't know, but it is something that strikes me as odd. Realize that I am not talking about all, or even most journalists. I am talking about some, and newspapers are one of the few professions that seem to suit them.

-- I like being negative about something that I enjoy. I had a good night at work tonight, so I'm just balancing everything out to make sure I'm kept on an even scale. If I have a bad night, I'll write about how much I love it, and if I had a good night, I'll write about the bad parts. In order to do the job right, you have to want to love it even when it's not enjoyable. The best part of it is that telling people you're a sportswriter makes them jealous and you can make it out to be the greatest freaking job ever.

"Newspaper work will not harm a young writer, and it could help him if he gets out of it in time." -- Ernest Hemingway

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You might look at the time this and most of my posts are written and think, "Does he sleep?" Well, yes I do. My schedule is such that right now at 4:45 a.m. is the equivalent of 11:45 p.m. Lately, at least, I go to bed at 5 a.m., wake up at 1 p.m., go to work at 4 or 5 p.m., work until 1 a.m. or so, get home by 2 a.m. after getting fast food, eat, sit at the computer and go to bed by 5. I'd like to be a normal human being, but this is just how it is. And I never really was a normal human being in the first place, so that wish is kaput. So, yes. That explains that.


Blogger SpikeWitwicky said...

This has got to be one of the most dead-on accounts of a journalist's life. I got out and sought a career as a technical writer (since I worked at a hospital to pay through college). I miss journalism something fierce. But I'm not too sure if it's worth going broke moving to a small town. True - nothing...NOTHING beats the comraderie of a newsroom. But... it's that food and rent thing.

I'm debating on staying in Omaha and making an o.k. wage at a boring job or packing up for a small town newspaper, which will surely destroy me financially. Folks keep saying "freelance" - but that's easier said than done.

Journalism is an addictive beast.

11:01 PM  

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