Thursday, February 19, 2009

The great collapse

Sara Foss writes:

Newspapers are in a state of collapse at the moment, struggling to cope with declining advertising revenue and the steady migration of paid subscribers to the web, and I don’t feel comfortable telling kids that journalism is a great career, because it’s not. Jobs are few and far between, and if you’re lucky enough to get hired, you’ll be entering a workplace in a perpetual state of retrenchment, uncertainty and gloom. A reporter friend of mine sent me an e-mail shortly before the trip, advising me to, “Be honest with the kids, encourage them to pursue other interests (they could all go to law school; tell them that), but don’t discourage them from being journalists. If they’re willing to live in poverty and have untraditional early careers, they might make it.” Nothing about an impoverished Darwinian struggle for survival sounds encouraging to me, but OK. Meanwhile, Greg, one of the guys who drove out to Oberlin with me, received the exact opposite advice from a friend who works at one of the largest newspapers in the U.S. “Don’t encourage them,” this person said. And I agree. I don’t want some kid to go into journalism because of me. I don’t want to have that on my conscience.

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