Magazine article The Quill

Should I Go into Journalism, Mr. Former Journalist and Successful Novelist?

Magazine article The Quill

Should I Go into Journalism, Mr. Former Journalist and Successful Novelist?

Article excerpt

When I give readings or lectures at colleges, after all the boring "future of the novel" talk, there's always one student who looks around sheepishly and asks: "Would you go into journalism today?"

I have been a novelist for almost 20 years, but I always credit my journalism background for my discipline, for my innate curiosity, for my write-about-anything chops. I sometimes say that my writer friends with creative writing MFAs are like classically trained musicians while I grew up pulling requests from a dirty whiskey glass on the jangly piano in a juke joint.

Of course, the student asking about journalism doesn't care about my overly elaborate piano bar analogy. And she certainly doesn't want to hear some old reporter pining for a world that no longer exists: Hot lead! Afternoon newspapers! Advertising! pensions!

No, this questioner is either majoring in journalism, thinking of majoring in journalism or in the unenviable position of defending to her parents why she has chosen journalism as a major instead of something more stable and lucrative like ... well, anything.

The real question is: With dying revenues and competition and corporate mismanagement and fewer jobs (that pay less) and declining public trust and social media echo chambers and, perhaps worst of all, a president who overtly attacks the news media - with all of this, would I still go into journalism?

Yes, I tell the questioner. I would.

I loved being a reporter. I learned so much so fast - about systems and institutions - and most of all about people, how they talk, what they want. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.