Saturday, January 19, 2008

Irons in the Fire

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.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Journalism must indeed be a tough area.

Michele sent me.

Ladybug Crossing said...

I found you through CQ.
I just read most of your pages... I can't wait to see what you end up doing next.

Anonymous said...

Your writing seems proactive to me even now. Journalism sounds so good.

Michele sent me here after TOO long!

kenju said...

I wish you well in all your endeavors, Michael. I am sure you will succeed at your goals.

Bobkat said...

There surely is! This reminds me of that old adage "life is what happens while you're making plans".

It's nice to have other irons in the fire and options to check out while you try and establish yourself. Who knows where they could take you?

JR said...

I think political reporting is going to become more important to the masses. We have a local blogger here who was competing with the local paper for readers, and I think he's now topped them. The main topic of his blog is attending all the political and government meetings no one has the time or desire to attend, reporting what's going on, and tons of investigative reporting exposing the corruption running rampant all over our town and it's administration. He's been approached by a lot of businesses to advertise their businesses on his blog. He's still in the early stages, but he's finding a niche where people want to be more involved but they're just not motivated enough or too busy to keep up with everything. He's providing a much needed service to the electorate and many have said they'd rather pay for news from his blog than pay for our local paper. As a bull-headed New Yorker (I grew up with lots of people like him, so I'm not offended) he tends to be inflammatory and sensational at times, but he reports more, faster, and more in depth than the local paper and people are noticing. You might look around for a niche like that where you're at. What skills do you have, and what can you do, that would be of service to others that they'd pay for? Just a thought, oh and congrats on the graduation and good luck with the job hunt. You're probably wise to forego the expensive of law school and the headaches that come once you're practicing.

Snaggle Tooth said...

You've got it right- Never discount any opportunity- even if it's not what the plan had dictated- Never know what will lead to the next phase. Free-lance can lead to a break anytime, also-
The economy is raining on everyone's career opps this year. Best of luck to you!