Monday, November 27, 2006

Will becoming a journalist destroy my chances of success?

I recently started an internship at the Waukesha daily newspaper, The Freeman, as a copy editor (very exciting, I know). Realizing that this is an excellent opportunity for someone going into the field of journalism, I can't complain too much about how it's been going.

For the most part, I sit around for hours editing dummy pages for grammar and style errors and sifting through the minutia that comprises the bulk of a daily newspaper. Every now and then an interesting story will come my way, and I might even find a few errors that need correcting, but, for the most part, it's actually quite boring. This does not bother me. Such is the life of a lowly intern.

What does bother me is that fact that nearly every employee at The Freeman within a desk's radius from me frequently ask, "Are you sure you want to go into journalism? It's not too late to change your mind."

Actually, yes. It is too late for me to change my mind. Maybe I didn't realize it until recently, but a $25,000 a year salary may seem decent to a poor college student, but it really isn't much money at all when you're pouring 50+ hours a week into your job, especially for such a specialized field. Anyone can learn to crunch numbers if they show enough interest, but not everyone can write well, let alone come up with a semi-creative thought to write about.

So why is it that a good journalist writing for one of the biggest papers in the country can only look forward to making $45-$60k a year? I honestly don't know the answer, but it's one of the reasons why I'm probably not going to be pursuing any job opportunities within print journalism, the major I'm paying $10,000 a year for.


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