Some advice for journalists from me and Ira Glass

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This post is to the recent j-grad and other unemployed journalists – the one who learned to FOIA like a pit bull at their student paper – the one who worked unpaid overtime for five years at a small daily just to be laid off – the one who was promised a job after an internship just to be told the position didn’t exist a year later – the one who dug up great stories just to have them killed by editors more interested in schmoozing with exces than public service:

Get out now or put everything you have into it and just expect things to be crappy for a long time.

In this climate, I don’t think anyone would blame you for throwing in the towel for something more sustainable. I didn’t really have a concrete plan when I left the Morning News – I just knew I needed a break from journalism. I had an application to grad school in the works, and a friend was making space for me in her parent’s basement in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In the meantime, I lived in ZenLizzie‘s spare room and the loft in my dad’s apartment and my car.

I love journalism. I love holding the big guys accountable. I love reporting, investigating, learning, flying in helicopters – but being unemployed gave me a chance to interview at a few different places and I see that the even in the two years since I’ve graduated, the business is going through some drastic and scary changes.

Media companies are pretending that good journalism is decided by site clicks and gimmicks rather than reporting with the purpose of educating the public. The line between PR and journalism is being blurred with things like brand journalism and the inability of media organizations to say no to press releases. Newspapers are getting smaller, no seriously waaaay smaller.

Depressing. But if anything, those things show how desperate the need for good journalists is right now. So if you’re like me and deicide to tough it out: blog, tweet, talk – do everything you can to stay involved. And listen to Ira: Push. Out. Work.

Remember the reason you got into this business in the first place…and say that in your interviews.

*Read my submission to Upstart Magazine here for more on this topic, and follow them on twitter @UpstartMagazine.

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