What I should have told a recent journalism grad

I felt rather buoyed this morning after e-mailing a reply to a thoughtful young professional journalist seeking my impressions of her news start-up. Wrote I:

“I do see that there is, and will continue to be, a vital role for journalists to use their news judgment and training to filter through information on the Web and present it with intelligence and insight for readers/viewers, just as old-school editors have done for many years.”

Oh, so earnest is all that! A short while later I came across a despondent print journalism grad who wrote into Salon’s Cary Tennis for career advice. How about this for an old-school response that has made me insanely envious:

“If you are a true journalist, the world is going to kick your ass. If you are a true journalist, you are supposed to be having a hard time. This is how the world makes writers. It kicks their ass long enough that they start finally telling the truth. They just finally give up and start bleating out little truthlets.”

That’s just the first graf. Kid, you still there? Well, listen up. The rest is a classic stream-of-conscious ramble, including this riff from an amazingly long gonzo-ish graf that must have been banged out on mescaline:

“We think of Sartre. We read Boswell. We picture the harsh levity of a drunken Samuel Johnson and think to ourselves, well, things could be worse. We think of Samuel Pepys on London Bridge getting blown by whores. We think of him singing with his wife and friends in the parlor. We think of him being treated, again, for another venereal disease. We think of Neanderthals scratching on the walls of caves. We think of their flutes 18,000 years old, the music they must have played, the fears they must have had; we wonder if they thought about us, their descendants, trying to figure out our VCRs.”

Kid, don’t leave now. We’re just about to reach the crescendo, where we confront the current state of the profession and figure out what the hell to do about it:

“We stand paralyzed before the fire, like animals watching their habitats burn. I can see what’s happening but am also somewhat paralyzed, doing an essentially 19th-century thing in this 21st century medium. . . .

“It’s a weird world but it’s interesting and fun. Fuck the little stuff. Don’t worry about your career. Find a story and write about it, and stay off the streets if you’re drunk.”


2 thoughts on “What I should have told a recent journalism grad

  1. Is it wrong to completely hate everything this man says instead? He sounds… terribly pretentious.


  2. No, it’s not wrong. I can’t figure out how much of it is serious vs. tongue-in-cheek. It’s just a great rant, pretentious or not.


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