A friend’s son interviewed me over the weekend about the field of journalism. He was doing the interview for his history class, so some of the questions centered on my recollections of a specific mass layoff at a New York City paper in the 1990s. As he asked me, with some concern, what I thought the fired employees did after they lost their jobs–and I told him they probably found other gigs, like all of the other people laid off in this field, or else figured out something else to do–I realized how jaded I’ve become about all of the turnover in our industry.
I used to be surprised when someone talented and hard-working lost an editorial staff job. Now I’m rarely shocked to find that my emails to a favorite editor are suddenly bouncing back because that person is “no longer with” a publication. It seems like almost anyone can become a casualty as the media reinvents itself in response to fast-changing technology. The only self defense is freelancing, where you’re in a constant state of readiness for change and you’re the one who ultimately controls whether you have work to do that day. If you’re an entrepreneurial type, you can use your natural resilience to find new opportunities.
Jeff Bercovici’s popular blog post on Forbes (where I also blog) reminded me that, in the midst of all of the creative chaos, there are still opportunities aplenty for all of us. In “Forget That Survey: Here’s Why Journalism Is the Best Job Ever,” he enumerates the many reasons being in this field is still a great reason to get up in the morning. Two reasons I liked: You get paid to read a ton and to meet interesting people. I won’t spoil things by repeating the whole post here, but it’ll definitely put you in the mood to work today.
What do you think? Is journalism the best job ever?