I was going to post this as a comment on Furious Seasons, but I wrote so much, I figured I’d make it a blog post. It’s a heckuva read for a comment.
I know you [Philip Dawdy] know more about what I’m going to say than I do, but I thought I’d offer my perspective anyway.
I started off my career in journalism. It’s a field I love to work in – copy editor, reporter, I love it all. Starting pay in New York for an entry-level reporter generally begins around $22-$24K. At around 5 years, it jumps up to $33K, perhaps. It’s possible to reach a ceiling of $40K, depending on where a reporter works. (I don’t know if this is the case at the New York Times.) The only way to make a anything close to $50K or above is to go into management, (managing editor, editor-in-chief). This is NEW YORK. I have debts and more than $20K in student loans. A job that pays $33K in 5 years wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the cost of living (it can’t even afford a solo apartment in New York unless a person has zero debt and live in a studio the size of a closet). I only know about New York salary because I considered working in the newspaper industry there.
Sex and the City and Dirt make journalism look exceptionally glamorous. While it can be interesting, it can be dirty and quite boring (especially at community papers). Some newly graduated journalist may be willing to financially suffer from a cause he belives in – serving the public’s "right to know." After being unable to consistently make bill payments, having creditors call me a few times, and having my husband (then-boyfriend) come through for me multiple times, I’ve become less idealistic. Journalism, as a career, doesn’t provide any stability. Similar to what you said, experienced 40-something reporters are forced out for a cheaper and inexperienced 20-something. Even as young reporter, I find this disconcerting. This trend leaves papers with a lack of knowledgeable reporters; older reporters find themselves battling age discrimination and unable to attain a similar position elsewhere because their salary ranges are too high.
I currently work as a medical editorial assistant in Philadelphia. It’s far from the job I want – and the journalism degree I have – but it provides a good starting salary (this is actually my second job out of college), great health care, and other good benefits. As for property and housing rates rising, that’s the case everywhere near major cities. I fear attempting to buy a house 10 years from now in the area I currently live. More so in Seattle because of the tech giants moving in. I’d recommend Montana or Nebraska for affordable living.
TV news is crap. It’s fast-food news: easy to get on the go, but doesn’t serve any real informational value. PR is considered the backup job for reporters. I’ve done that and it’s awful. It’s boring, superficial, and full of regurgitation. I did a stint in PR and despite my zeal for the cause I worked for, it didn’t provide the challenge that reporting brings. I make good money doing what I do now even though I’m basically a glorified lackey. I hate not reporting, editing, and doing everything that I love to do. In the end, it all comes down to money. I can only hope to freelance or become a famous novelist someday. (Ha. Ha.)
The print journalism industry is dying. Companies are merging, trimming staff, and folding some papers altogether due to lack of readership and revenue. Traveling mainstream giants like The New York Times, USA Today, or the Wall Street Journal won’t die as easily, unless wireless internet access becomes available during flights, but I’m convinced other daily papers will. The majority of Americans don’t read daily papers; as the next few generations die, newspapers may become an item treasured in an archive museum.
There’s a need for more blogs that focus on mental illness and pharmaceutical companies. As more Americans are placed on psychotropic medications, there will be a need to hold pharma companies accountable. It may not seem like much now, but in the end, hopefully, it will add up. Change doesn’t occur overnight.
Mental illness is the big elephant in the room no one wants to discuss. That’s why my blog has a focus on mental illness from a Christian perspective. Many Christians have a perception that mental illness means a person doesn’t have enough faith in God, needs to pray more, or isn’t a Christian at all. Christians who suffers from mental illness are as taboo as Christians who admits they’re gay – both are considered unacceptable.
I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, but I’m figured I’d throw in my 2 cents for what it’s worth.
The fight against Big Pharma seems futile. But if you were battling aggressive cancer, would you be willing to give up this easily? I’d hate to see Furious Seasons go, but if it must, I understand, especially given your circumstances. Do what you gotta do.