It’s been a little while since I’ve done any “recreational” writing. Since finishing school less than a month ago, I have been wandering a bit. I thought I had a pretty good idea on where I would be going next. I was pretty sure I would be climbing up the journalistic ladder, writing for increasingly prestigious publications until I had the experience to land a job with a major market daily, preferably, the Sacramento Bee. However, my vision proved to be more than just a little myopic and did not provide the scope necessary to allow for diversion from the plan. Fortunately, I chose a major that does.
Government-journalism is a major unique to California State University, Sacramento. It is a combination of not only political science (government at CSUS) and journalism, but also spans across two separate colleges within the university, Arts and Letters (journalism) and Interdisciplinary Studies (government). Two faculty advisors, two department chairs and, if I so chose, two graduation ceremonies. Since my original direction was decidedly towards journalism, I identified most closely with the college of Arts and Letters, which contains the communications studies department and its off-shoot, journalism. I participated only in the college of Arts and Letters graduation ceremony, but my name was listed in the program under Interdisciplinary Studies. Confusing, but so am I.
Jobs in journalism are becoming few and far between. As major news organizations have become nothing more than a business unit of some multi-national conglomerate, their value is based upon the bottom line. The press, at least the mainstream press, has not been about serving the community for a very long time - it is about serving the stockholders. To this end, costs are continually being cut; newsrooms are staffed at a fraction of what they once were, and there is little relief in sight. Reporting and writing the news is a noble and worthy pursuit, but establishing oneself in the industry is an increasingly uphill battle. I am not abandoning that dream, but I am finding myself open to new possibilities.
Since I essentially have a BA in both journalism and political science, there are many more doors open to me, some of which I had not considered prior to graduation. I also have a number of post-graduate options open to me. An MA degree has been part of my plan since I decided not to attend law school, but I just took for granted that it would be in communications studies. There are, however, a number of other masters programs open to me and I have only just begun to explore the possibilities. Career-wise, working as a staffer somewhere in the state political structure is looking like a more viable career path and one that has not suffered the attrition present in journalism, especially print journalism.
Although there is a fair amount of bureaucracy that must be navigated, I have proven that I am more than up to the task. After all the reading and research and writing I have accomplished over the past several years, these obstacles are not insurmountable. But they are still obstacles. I am still freelancing (for the same organization that chose not to hire me as an employee - another story for another time) but now I have several more irons in the fire. It’s only a matter of time before something pops… as long as I keep moving. Stay tuned… I plan to get much more proactive. There is a bright horizon just a short way away.