The sad state of journalism

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A few days ago I received an e-mail from an upcoming college graduate with dreams of becoming a print journalist. He wrote seeking advice—how should I enter the field? What’s the best approach? Do you know anyone? Etc …
My advice: Take a year and explore Europe.
I mean it. I hate that I wrote it, but I meant it. Never, in my 15 years in the business, have I ever seen anything like this. Literally speaking, nobody is hiring. Nobody. Not the big papers, not the small papers, not the good magazines, not the crappy magazines. Newspapers are going out of business, magazines are lacking advertising … it’s just ludicrous.
So, were I 22 once again, I honestly would take a year and explore. Find a job washing elephants in Rome. Work as a waitress in Paris. Babysit kids in Madrid, join a comedy troupe in London, peddle soda in Berlin. Just go out there … take in the world—then come back and join the unemployed.
Sigh.

5 thoughts on “The sad state of journalism”

  1. Jeff, is there a future in print journalism? Seriously? By the time the columnists of today retire, the internet and blog media will be so great that there may be no next generation of print journalists. Right?

  2. I was recently asked by the local college to speak to a J-school class. As the sports editor, it’s an annual tradition.

    This year, I declined. I couldn’t stand in front of 20-30 college kids and crush their dreams.

  3. So does this mean you were just filling my head with uselss dreams when I asked you the same questions? No but for real, I know everything sucks right now, especially print journalism. So, whatever, I’ll just work my ass off for the next two years, get my degree and then become a bartender in Ireland.

  4. Dave – I don’t think that Jeff is saying that all the jobs are moving to the Internet, thus rendering newspaper and magazine guys obsolete. I think that most print reporters, having been one, would be more than happy to switch mediums, and more than capable of doing so. Such is progress, and the printed word is the printed word. I think even the grayest of dinosaurs realizes that.

    The vast majority of print journalists don’t necessarily have some sort of loyalty to paper. What they do have loyalty to is getting paid for the work that they do, just like anybody who performs any other job. For some reason, a lot of independent bloggers and the like believe this is a silly notion – and somehow taints the writer’s work. I would challenge them to read “Boys Will Be Boys” and walk away saying, first of all, that they could produce anything like it and, second, that Jeff didn’t deserve to be paid for what clearly amounts to a year of full-time work.

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