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The Sunday Salon: On Journalism

The Sunday Salon.comI actually don’t have any updates on my reading life for this Sunday Salon, I think because things in my regular life (i.e. everything that’s not reading) have been sort of tough the last few days.

Over the summer I’ve been interning with the Madison city newspaper, The Capital Times (TCT). Like all newspapers, TCT and the other paper housed in our building, The Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ), have been impacted by the recession and the bigger mess that’s happening in journalism today. Newspapers are drastically losing profits and having to make major cuts, many of which are not pretty.

Last Thursday, publishers at TCT and WSJ announced plans to make it through the next fiscal years which included 15 layoffs and furloughs for all employees (plus drastic cuts to employee benefits and major structural changes to both newspapers). Even though I’m not directly impacted by this, I was still really, really upset after the meeting because it was the first time it really hit me how bad things in journalism actually are.

In some ways, I’ve been preparing to be a journalist for my whole life. I’ve always loved to write and wanted to be a writer. When I was in high school I worked for my school paper, eventually as Editor-in-Chief for two years. I worked for my college newspaper for four years, plus co-founded a news and opinion magazine. And then I went to grad school for journalism.

Being a journalist feels like it’s the job I’ve always wanted, and it’s heartbreaking and exestential-crisis causing to see the industry falling apart without knowing how to help fix it.

Logically, I know it’s actually not a bad time to be getting into journalism as young person. I’m tech-savvy, used to working online, able to learn new programs and software, and ready to adapt to journalism online. I’m ready to help journalism figure out where it’s going.

But I’m also scared. Being able to remember all of that while sitting in a newsroom full of talented journalists worried about losing their jobs is hard. And it doesn’t always make me feel more confident that I’m making good decisions — investing time and money into getting a master’s in a field that’s changing faster than any of us really understand.

So that’s life at the moment. I’m an intern with the paper for two more weeks, then I have a few days off before I’m back to school to start the second year of my master’s. And after that, I honestly have no idea.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion August 16, 2009, 8:27 pm

    It is a scary time indeed. People still need to know the news, though, so I feel sure the industry will change to fit today’s lifestyles. Good luck to you!

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy August 16, 2009, 9:54 pm

    I’m sorry Kim, and I can kind of feel your fear. I hope that things work out and that you find the guidance you need when you need it.

  • Nicole August 16, 2009, 10:13 pm

    It’s a scary time for journalists. Newspaper journalism is a sinking ship, sadly–online is where it’s at. You are well-poised to take advantage of this, so I know you will be fine. But the ethics of the profession and the way journalism is being done has changed drastically. It will never be the same again.

  • Jenny aka Sister August 17, 2009, 12:41 am

    Hey sis don’t worry everything will work out for you. You have made good choices, and I am positive you will succeed. I have the same feelings about my future career as you are having about yours. But I have faith that we will work it out so don’t be discouraged, just keep up the good work and you will be able to do what you want to I know it

  • Michelle August 17, 2009, 1:31 am

    It’s very scary times. But at least you’re aware of these changes and can do what you can to make the best choices for your career. Good luck to you!

  • Jodie August 17, 2009, 3:29 am

    Aww the world is throwing so many people out of jobs at the moment that it’s just not worth trying to pick your path based on where the work will be – there’s just no way to predict which industries will fall down and which will pick themselves up. Keep going at what you enjoy and keep your eyes open for any pit holes you need to jump. Good luck!

  • softdrink August 17, 2009, 10:06 am

    Since you’re aware of the issues you can take steps to make yourself more marketable. I think being young will work to your advantage. Sometimes change is hard for those who have been in the field for a long time. They don’t want to, or can’t, adapt.

    Good luck!

  • Louise August 17, 2009, 10:17 am

    I am sure you are going to make it. You still have a year until your masters, and much can happen during that year. Newspapers as we know them may be on their way out, but I do not think it is something which will happen overnight or over the course of the next year! I wish you much luck with your last year 🙂

  • Dorte H August 17, 2009, 10:40 am

    Things may change a lot in the next year, and I am sure an outgoing, creative person as you will find something to do. I really wish you luck.

  • Margot August 17, 2009, 4:36 pm

    Reading your post made my heart break for you. Even though things sound bleak right now you sound like a person who still has faith in yourself and the future.

    One phrase caught my attention: “the industry is falling apart.” I’m sure that statement is true for you but, may I suggest you keep good notes on every thing you see now. My hunch is that the industry is just changing and your observations five, ten, fifteen years down the road might make a great book.