The Sunday Salon: On Journalism

by Kim on August 16, 2009 · 20 comments

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.

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