So a few moments ago I received this DM from one of my prize journalism students at Chapman University …
He shared a link to a Tweet from Wajahat Ali, who asked journalists the question, “If a young person wanted to go into journalism right now, what advice would you give them?”
To which Julia Ioffe replied …
And I just … I … I … friggin’ hate this shit. Hate, hate, hate, hate this shit. First, because Julia Ioffe is (according to her (cough) Wikipedia page), a wildly successful and accomplished scribe who covers national security and foreign policy topics for GQ and has no business shitting on the very dream she A. Pursued; B. Has lived. Second, because while, yeah, making it as a journalist is probably harder than ever, it remains a realistic and fantastic way to make a living.
And, sure, maybe I 100 percent fit this suit …
But Yamiche Alcindor doesn’t. Mirin Fader doesn’t. Katie Barnes doesn’t. Wright Thompson doesn’t. Jon Wertheim doesn’t. Molly Knight doesn’t. Jacob Shamsian doesn’t. Rebecca Klein doesn’t. Mike Freeman doesn’t. Charles Blow doesn’t.
I can go on, and on, and on, and on—naming hundreds upon hundreds of working journalists who aren’t mediocre white men, who don’t survive by kissing up and kissing down. Who write beautifully, who report intensely, who still believe in the power of relaying information, and who sustain successful and prosperous careers doing so.
Yeah, it’s harder than it used to be, and the desire to graduate college and immediately land a newspaper job ain’t what it once was. Yeah, saying, “I dream of becoming a journalist” is a little more like “I dream of becoming an actor” and a little less like “I dream of becoming a teacher.” Yeah, it’s a slog. It’s disappointment. It’s rejection. It’s starting out for excrement money at a shit middle-of-nowhere outpost. Yeah, your lawyer pal will be cruising on his yacht while you’re driving a ’93 Geo Metro. Yeah, your Jewish mother (in my case) will urge you to go to dental school.
But—fuck that, and fuck Julie Ioffe telling aspiring scribes not to go for it.
When I was a young gun at Sports Illustrated, the great Jack McCallum said to me, “You won’t be rich, but you’ll have the best stories at your high school reunion—and that’s currency.” He was right. One hundred percent right.
Ignore the jerks.
Drown out the skeptics.
Fight for the dream.