I was free-writing for an application essay I’m working on. This spewed out. It’s too off topic to use, but I thought I’d share it with you all:
In the midst of wooden coasters and steel death-defiers, I sat on a stage facing a couple hundred high school journalism students and their advisers. To the right was a woman who has found a way to make money from her blog. To the left was a Pulitzer-winning television journalist. Me, I was the old-school one of the bunch, even if I was 15 years to the junior of either of them. I was at the Kennywood Amusement Park Media Career Day representing that dinosaur institution: newspapers.
So, definitely, I should have seen it coming. One of the students, one right up front, raised her hand and asked: “Aren’t you afraid of losing your job?”
Truly, I was pretty terrified of this prospect. She probably didn’t know that less than two weeks ago the newsroom lost one-third of its editorial staff. A satellite office was shut down. Its weekly paper killed. Yeah, losing my job was a real fear.
But, I was on stage. And, when you are on a stage, you act. While it took some will power keep to my composure, when the words started pouring out as answer I felt like they were the truth.
I admitted that losing my job at the newspaper was on my mind. But, I countered, leaving a newspaper doesn’t mean leaving your career. What journalists are – their true essence – is storytellers. And, this world here will always need good storytellers. I challenged her to become the best storyteller she could. Be the best in her field. Have the most experience under her belt. If she didn’t end up in a newspaper, she’d still have a chance to work her magic in the part of journalism that has yet to unfold.
Then, Mr. Pulitzer Prize piped in about Mo-Jo and buzzwords and took the pressure off me. I got to hop on the rickety tracks of the Jack Rabbit. But, still I wonder how to nspire the Lois Lanes of the world to invest their education in journalism if we can’t promise them a life in it? How are the leaders of the news biz going to create excitement about storytelling in the future if we don’t do something about it now? How are we going to keep the Fourth Estate a government watchdog if the only inspiring thing about journalism is celebrity? How we harness the fire and passion of j-school students into the skills that will keep democracy alive?