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Surviving as a journalist
April 16, 2012 |
How should a young would-be journalist go about these days, in the face of dwindling newspaper circulation, fierce competition and unstoppable feelings of hopelessness?
Newspapers are failing because there's so little in them that anybody wants to read. Travelling around the country, I pick up once-proud newspapers in airports and am astonished at how thin they are, how publishers are cutting out the very things that give them life. It's like trying to cure a sick patient by bleeding him. What a young journalist needs to do is to put together enough money to take two years to see the world. There are readers who want to buy your stuff but first you have to find out what you can do. A young journalist has the big advantages of youth ---- curiosity, the freedom to ramble, the ability to meet physical challenges and to endure hardship ---- and you should use them to give yourself a big experience. Go walk around China, go explore India, live in Alaska, do big things, develop your sensibility, your narrative skills, your view of the world. This is not frivolous. This is essential to building a professional career. The reader needs to get some report from the distant world. He is firmly imprisoned in his own life. He needs you to be free in his behalf. This would be a good time to learn how to do that.