The New York Times is not doing so hot.
If you read this column every week (fun fact: we’re into April and I still have people I know from the dorms run into me and say “Hey! I saw your picture in the paper today!” Humbling.), this isn’t really news to you. What is news, however, is that the problems in New York are now carrying over into other cities.
Bostonians awoke this Saturday to a front-page story in The Boston Globe explaining that The Globe will close in 30 days if the 13 different unions that represent its workers don’t agree to $20 million in cuts.
The New York Times Co. bought the Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion. Both newspapers are losing money faster than MC Hammer and The Times is not really interested in supporting two cash leeches. Consequently, their employees are getting taken to the cleaners (though it’s not like Times, Co. is getting off scot-free; would you want to argue with the Teamsters?).
This, in combination with the ever-increasing number of newspapers filing for bankruptcy (the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times … ) might make journalism look like a questionable career choice.
I’m here to convince you, the undecided college student, that it’s actually a great choice! Hear me out.
News isn’t going away. Just because nobody in charge of major newspapers bothered to figure out a new, financially viable business model when the Internet got popular doesn’t mean that events will stop happening. Politicians will continue to lie, apologize for it, continue lying and get elected anyway. Someone needs to be there to report on it (you, you’re the person)!
If you’re trained as a journalist, you can work for magazines (writing), radio shows (talking), television (talking at a camera) or even blogs (talking to nobody in particular).
Maybe you’re like me and you have a short attention span. Journalism is a great gig for you, my friend. You learn a lot about subject A on Monday, write about it, and by Tuesday you’re on to subject B which is something completely different. Alternately you can pick one thing and report on that for the rest of your life like Roger Ebert (disclaimer: getting a job as a full-time critic is hard).
You don’t even have to change your major when you decide you want to be a journalist (which is good, since UC Davis doesn’t offer journalism as a major). If you have a specialty, so much the better, you’ll be adept at reporting on that; the most important requirement is to be good at reporting.
If I’ve convinced you to be a journalist, my apologies to your parents (journalism isn’t gonna move you up a tax bracket, that’s for sure). If you have no idea how to get started, it’s not as hard as you think.
For starters, although UC Davis doesn’t offer a journalism major (or minor, currently), it does offer some very good journalism classes. University Writing Program 104C is an introductory journalism class taught by some fantastic professors, including Gary Sue Goodman, the assistant director of Writing Across the Curriculum, and Stephen Magagnini, a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee and advisor to The California Aggie. This class will teach you the fundamentals of reporting and you’ll have a great time doing it.
If that only whets your appetite, feel free to come down to Lower Freeborn and get an application to work for this very publication! We’re always looking for talented applicants who are interested in reporting. Our editors will teach you and help you along and before you know it you’ll be churning out stories.
Being a reporter means that you get to help inform the campus and the city of Davis on what’s going on. Tens of thousands of people are relying on you to get them quality information that can help them. If you write an article previewing a safety lecture, and just one of your readers attends that lecture, you’ve made a difference! You’ve maybe saved someone’s life! Doesn’t that sound cool?
Don’t you want to be a part of that?
RICHARD PROCTER wants you to wish him luck at his internship interview today. Send him your good wishes at firstname.lastname@example.org.