Revisiting the Business Side of Journalism
In my attempts to begin updating my website (see my updated Words section!) I came across one of my old blogs from college. Known as The Grab Bag it was one of my many attempts to keep a consistent space for my musings and rants. As I was browsing through my poorly-written works – many of these were honestly written after a few cans of Natty Light and nights of partying – I came across one post that conjured up all kinds of memories. Titled “The Business Side (AKA the Ugly Side) of Journalism,” I reflected on the evident changes in the world of journalism.
As a first-year journalism student (I didn’t transfer into the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism until my junior year) I was naive to the business that is journalism. In my piece, I discussed my first week at my internship at Cincinnati.com. I was excited to learn new ways to tell stories – whether it was through the written word, video or photography. But, on my seventh day things changed:
I met with the president and publisher of the company and she gave me advice of how to cope with losses of employees and mentors in the field. I was aware that The Enquirer was going to cut 10% of their staff to brace for the trying times they were facing. I let her know that I was fully aware that cuts were to be made and that I would be fine. “Keep your head down and focus on your objectives,” is what she said. It really was great advice. In hind sight, I really shrugged off the advice because I didn’t think that I would really be affected by the changes. In the end, I was dead wrong.
When I got into journalism, I knew that the field was experiencing a change of great magnitude. Many media companies were trying to figure out where their service fit into the new economic system. As a delusional 20-year-old college student I truly was not ready to see the consequences companies faced when they didn’t adjust quick enough. My internship adviser, who set me up with this great internship, was one of the many employees that day that suffered from the cuts:
As I went about going through my editing guide, I was called into my internship adviser’s office. Thinking I was going to talk to her about a new project, I went in with a blind eye. What she told me next changed my feelings for journalism forever. The woman, who has been an employee of The Enquirer for almost a decade, told me she had been “let go.” I was at a loss for words. Feelings of shock, anger and sadness hit me all at once. And I had known this woman for only about a week. I could not imagine what this woman was feeling. At that moment, I saw the business of journalism.
Although my introduction to the business side of journalism was an unwelcome one, I have come to realize that for those that are willing to adapt and adjust to a changing field it can be an extremely rewarding ride. For those that are willing to learn new skills, utilize cutting-edge storytelling practices and keep an open mind to the future they will find themselves leading the world in this new age of journalism.
It blows me away now to read the words that I wrote on that day in 2008:
I love what I am doing. I love journalism and having the power to create art for people to view and enjoy. On the contrary, I have grown to loathe the business side of journalism…I know that a career in journalism is a roller coaster ride that goes both up and down. After the events of the last week, I am now unsure of whether I will be riding that roller coaster after graduation.
Almost three years later and I could not imagine doing anything else than working in a field where creativity and expression are the fundamentals of success. From the moment I finished that post my life took the most dramatic upswing that I could have ever possibly dreamed of. As I read this blog post now, I try to envision myself then – an aspiring storyteller that wanted nothing more than to have the ability to inspire without the distractions that business brings to the table. It is only now that I know that the business side of journalism is what keeps us in check. We must continue to evolve our journalism for a world that constantly demands change. I will continue to learn new skills and use best practices to hopefully stay ahead of the curve. When the day comes that I am no longer keeping my head above waters, I will know then that it is time to call it a career.