Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A pencil, a notebook and a bus ticket


I've just come from browsing the Interwebs, following links from an old classmate's blog to another, and another.

I thought I was doing pretty good, making a living and putting my journalism degree to good use. I thought I was a success story, coming from a class of 60 who graduated on the eve of a recession and in the dying times of newspapers and journalism (because all these "Bloggers" are taking over the news, you see).

I've kept in touch with a few classmates. We commiserate on being under-paid, on how volatile the freelance thing is, and whose work we caught on CBC or in the Globe. Though I never said it out loud, I was pretty pleased with myself for jobbing it up in the journalism field.

But apparently community reporting is not good enough for some of my classmates, even some of the chronically unemployed ones. They bemoan the state of newspapers, and begrudge the lack of newspaper jobs. Hello! There are five openings in this province! Where are all these journalist wannabes when the job ads go out?? One, who did a stint at a small-town paper in Alberta, called community reporting "a joke."

Thing is, they want to write the Next Great Scoop. They want to be Barbara Frum, Stephanie Nolan, Peter Jennings and Ian Brown. (Another camp want to be Carrie Bradshaw, but that's neither here not there). And so they are too good for community reporting.

Now I don't know where the greats got their start, but I know they didn't walk out the hallowed halls of journalism school and into top reporting jobs around the world. I would venture, when they were cub reporters, nothing was beneath them. Because good reporters find good stories everywhere.

Never mind that I have a sneaking suspicion that this line of work just ain't my thing. Never mind that I feel hopelessly inadequate sometimes. Never mind that I know I'll never write 10,000-word investigative pieces for the national papers. I have a job, and that's more than I could say for the majority of my peers.

But apparently weekly community newspapers are just not cool enough for my breed of classmates. I am sure I am not the first new grad to weigh her accomplishments against her classmates, and I certainly won't be the last. I am fiercely aware that I have many, many more years of learning ahead. Still, I wish every out-of-work reporter with sights set on the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail would read this. And then think about where they really want to work, and whose stories they want to write.

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