I’m leaving in the morning for a potentially momentous job interview in Virginia that will very likely be the pivot point where I decide whether to stay in newspapers or seek some other yet-to-be-determined writing outlet. It’s kinda like that mid-level philosophy class you take in college where you weigh if there are any real career options in the field, or if maybe you’d be better off joining the rest of the slackers learning about Advanced Science Fiction Theory in the American Studies department. Except, um, you know, like a much, much bigger deal.
If I can quote my grizzled, cowboy boot-wearing Arkansas boy, ink-in-his-veins night city editor, after he recently learned about the latest rock slide in the ongoing avalanche of cuts at our newspaper: “I’m trying to remember the mindset I was in when I decided to do journalism for the rest of my life.” We later determined that this decision was most likely made in the sixties, and the mindset was the same one that caused him to stand on a swivel chair and swat at large, insectoid panthers he saw floating above his desk while the chords to Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” were being painted on a nearby wall by a coverall-wearing garden gnome.
The funny thing is, a year ago, I would have absolutely erupted at the possibility of landing a job at this paper. I even applied there once before, and was benignly jealous when another coworker got a job there instead. Now, with the daily death march that is the Romenesko feed and more and more of our generation feeling like most newspapers have done everything they can to make themselves appear undeserving of our efforts and enthusiasm, it’s a dramatically less inspiring landscape.
But who knows — maybe some people out there are still fighting the good fight, and maybe there is still a tiny spark of hope for the withering embers of that ancient civic-duty minded newsroom soul.
And maybe I’ll see swat one of those flying panthers square between its stupid eyes this weekend.