Today my newspaper laid off three people. I'm relieved to have dodged the bloodletting, but I'm sad for the loss. We lost some good people today.
I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I wrote a speech for my fifth-grade English class, and though it only got me a B+ (making me feel a bit like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story"), I remembered my mother saying, "You know, you're lucky because you can write."
Writing was always easy, even when math was hard, Chemistry was granite-hard and Geometry was downright impossible (I squeaked out a D in that class, probably because I didn't talk in class so the teacher felt sorry for me). I really actually should not say "easy" because writing is never easy, but it was something I could do.
I couldn't really do anything else. I was a horrible athlete, so I'd have to set aside hopes of multi-million-dollar contracts. I hated (hate) gladhanding, so my political career would have to be limited civil disobedience like not paying the meters in protest of all the bad parking on my college campus. I couldn't make it in the military, so I had to settle for saving the world by killing billions of aliens in "Halo."
But I remember taking journalism I in high school and thinking, "Hey. Writing. I can do THAT." And though I wasn't very good at first - maybe, if you read my stories or this blog, you might wonder if I've ever improved - I got better and decided that newspapers were something I could do for a job. I didn't want to write a novel. I wanted to make money writing. And so, when I was a junior in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career.
All my friends went through 15 majors by the time they were sophomores, but I stayed with journalism. It was what I wanted to do.
After 15 years in the business, I still can't imagine doing anything else. The pay is still bad, and the hours can be tough, but the job, meeting people and writing great stories and occasionally covering breaking news is still damn fun. I wouldn't want to spend an election night anywhere else but a newsroom or out that night working on an assignment.
Yeah, journalism has many problems, and this business is filled with assholes, but I still believe in this profession.
I love my job. How many can really say that?
Now I'm left pondering if there won't be a job for us any longer in 10 years. Maybe five. I can't imagine newspapers just dying. But then again, I can't imagine doing anything else.
I'll be 40 in three years. Starting over at that age seems pretty tough to me. But I may not have a choice.