Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why I Refused to Work for American Media

As you know, I earned my BA in Journalism last May. You also know that I am not pursuing a career in journalism. It certainly isn't because I don't enjoy writing. I love it. It's such a wonderful way to express ones creativity. However, when it came down to it, I didn't see myself writing for a career.

For one, the newspaper industry is dying. It is all going online, and more papers are closing than hiring. Not that I would have ever wanted to work for a newspaper (horrible hours, not a guaranteed job, crummy pay, etc.), but it is a source of print media, nonetheless. And a job would have been a job (especially today).

Two: most print media outlets won't even consider hiring someone unless they had solid internship experience. I had none. And not by choice. Journalism internships are hard to find. Unless you want to live in NYC for the summer... but then you have to pay rent and the internship is unpaid. And seeing that I my money tree in the backyard is dead, this wasn't realistic.

Three: My dream journalism jobs would be writing for a fashion magazine, reporting on human rights, or doing foreign correspondence, such as war coverage. That pretty much leaves places of residency to New York City, Los Angeles, or DC. Had I become a foreign correspondent, much of my time would not have been spent in America, though. Awesome at 22, but if I wanted that as a career, the lifestyle is not very conducive to life as a wife and mother. At least not to life as the wife and mother I hope to be.

And while all of these are valid reasons to choose another career path, my biggest reason for stepping away from journalism is this: I absolutely despise all that American popular print media stands for. It is so biased and contrived that I could never feel good about what I was reporting. Do I watch CNN? Absolutely. But I still don't think they report on issues that matter 85% of the time. They get fixated on trivial topics. If I want to read about Tiger Woods (I don't), I will pick up PEOPLE. I don't want to hear about which celebrity did what on what is supposed to be a NEWS station. Quite frankly, I don't give a hoot about the fact that the Obama girls got a swing set in the White House lawn. Nor do I care how often they visit Hawaii annually. Or that they got a dog. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if, by the end of 2012, we get a report on how often the president frequents the restroom in a day. That's how mundane some of the stories are. It's not news. And if that's all the media can think to write about regarding our "leader," to be honest, it kind of lends proof to how little Mr. President is doing for our country. But that's another post for another time.

I do care about the rising level of people in poverty in this country. And the fact that women still make .75 to every man's 1.00. I also care about the rise of drug and human trafficking (especially in the good 'ole U.S. of A); the rise in teen pregnancies and the decrease in the number of high school graduates; the numerous horrible education systems in this country, especially in poverty-stricken areas; and the amount of murders this country has annually. Did you know that Great Britain, on average, has less than 300 murders annually? Here in America, we average in the tens of thousands. And yet CNN and the like prefer to talk about Balloon Boy (for what seemed like forever) and whether or not Brangelina will be adopting from Haiti. Don't even get me started on the Michael Jackson coverage. So unless you read The New Yorker regularly (which most Americans don't), you aren't getting stories of much substance. I'd like to hear stories regarding the amount of people on welfare (and how many of those are abusing the system); more about the genocide in Darfur (and why the U.S. government is the first to rescue earthquake victims-- which is important-- but is doing little to save the small African region that has roughly 500,000 genocide victims and rising. That's not even including those that are displaced.). I care about the mistreatment of women (especially in areas such as Africa and the Middle East); and hardcore facts about the Iraq war (but one must turn to a non-biased book to get those kind of details... check out Imperial Life in the Emerald City if you're interested.) Not all news needs to cover such heavy subjects. There's plenty of positive news stories I'd love to hear; stories of hope. But, clearly, the First Lady's new hairdo takes precedence (just google 'Michelle Obama's haircut'- the first website is from cbsnews.com).

Now, that's not to say that ALL print media is worthless. And I'm not saying that the news stories we hear are never important. But the mundane far outweigh the real hearty stories that inform people about local and global issues about topics that need not be taboo. The popular print media relies too heavily on what they know, but it's the 21st century and time to branch out. Since most journalists start at the bottom, I would've been one of the many that is forced to write about issues that, in the grand scheme of things, are of little importance. While this may not be an issue for many, it is for me. A big issue. I can't write about something I'm not passionate about. So why be employed by print media? I'm better off getting a job I am passionate about and write on the side, for my own pleasure, about topics that I care about. And that, my friends, is precisely what I have chosen to do.



3 comments:

Merri Ann said...

Well ... when comparing statistics from England I think the most important thing to remember is that the entire county has the size and population of one of our small states. And, they don't have the diverse population we do, either.

Not only does the media cover mundane stories, they short change the important ones to cover those stories. My biggest pet peeve about the 24 hour news channels is they cut off a really good interview to cover another subject that is trivial. They have 24 hours to fill ... why not keep that good interview going?

Anyway, don't get me started on how mostly bad our media is. The internet and blogging has opened up a huge source of info ... you just need to find it. Folks like Micelle Malkin and Charles Krauthammer for starters. Their blogs cover subjects in great detail.

Obviously, I have a lot to say on this subject :)

Melissa said...

So are you currently a freelance writer? And then you will be going to Nursing School in the Fall? Nursing is a great career choice (and works pretty good for moms). Good luck!

- Melissa

Marianne said...

Merri Ann... valid point about comparing US and GB. But I'm sure you'd agree, tens of thousands of murders annually is alarming, no matter how you look at it.

And I couldn't agree more about the short changing the media does. It is SO aggravating. Save the celebrity bs for TMZ and the like. I just think it is beyond pathetic that, if one wants good news information, they must turn to the internet (something not everyone has access too). What the point of print media and TV media if they can't report on the topics Americans want to hear? I'll be sure to check out those two blogs you mentioned.


Melissa-- The only writing I do is on here. I've thought about freelance, but I have a lot going on and the idea of having a deadline isn't something I want to entertain. In order to apply to the nursing program I'm interested in, I needed to take Anatomy 101 and 102; I finished 101 last semester and am in 102 now. I'll be applying in April and, if I get in, will start in fall :) I'm really looking forward to being an RN; I volunteer in the NICU 8 hours a week and no, without a doubt, that's the job I am supposed to have. And you're right, very good career for a working mom :) Thanks for the well wishes!!

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