Friday, April 20, 2007

Advice, please

Something I fear most is that my desires are oblivious to that great caveat that "the grass is always greener on the other side." More specifically, I am afraid I will jump into a career about which I know little because those careers about which I know a fair amount seem daunting and uninteresting. This, I guess, is the existential worry that hovers around my interest in attending graduate school in journalism: I understand the career in broad terms but am not familiar with the headache aspects of the field.

A very wise person recently wrote this to me: in life, "we must make important decisions despite the obvious lack of essential data" and that "[p]art of becoming an adult and establishing one's own identity has to do with getting more comfortable making decisions with insufficient data." I have often operated under the idea that few things, if any, can be resolved and few conclusions can be made, and what conclusions people do attempt to make are figments of their belief that answers exist. Recently though, I'm beginning to see how, even if I don't believe I can arrive at certainty on many questions, I must at least try to make decisions "despite the obvious lack of essential data," because the alternative, which is awaiting the right amount of information in order to make a decision, mainly just leads to ruminating and unproductive stasis.

Yet, I still seek data, of a sort. If anyone reading this has anything to say about the merits of a career in journalism, please speak. More broadly, if you can speak on the existential issue of how to figure out what to do for a living and how to avoid idealizing a lesser-known career path simply to escape the perceived monotonies of a greater-known one, please speak too. Or e-mail me.

Oh, and I guess I should say that I am interested in journalism for a few reasons, some of which might not actually make good reasons to go into the field:
(1) I like writing. Does this make me cut out for journalism, though? I don't know. After all, a lot of journalism is about unfurling an event, policy proposal, etc., and not about writing with creative flourish.
(2) I like editing and revising. I'm one of the few people I know who actually enjoys revising papers and articles. I figure this must cut me out for some sort of writing job.
(3) I am interested in a multitude of policy issues and issues in general but do not want to acquire specialized knowledge in one of them at the risk of knowing less about the others. I see journalism as a way to avoid the opportunity cost of specializing, because a journalist is a generalist who can, in theory, give a digestible account of anything.
(4) I often consider why certain issues are covered at the expense of others and what are the relevant facts in a story or the relevant aspects to be covered about a political campaign, and so forth. I figure I would have even more food for thought here if I became a journalist.


Anonymous said...

You sound very interested in journalism to me! And I'm guessing that blogs will become part of journalism curricula, if they are not already. So I say, get in on the ground floor ~ go to J-school and, as you learn the basic skills, include blogs in your studies ~ as an independent study, if necessary. Just a thought ~ hm.

Elaine said...

Thanks for the support and great advice! Yeah, I know digital media is becoming increasingly integrated into journalism programs, which is good.