I know we spend a lot of time here memorializing the vestiges of the golden days of print journalism, be they real or a collective wistful fiction. It would be remiss, however, to not take a second to note the parting of Daniel Schorr, one of this blog’s most respected journos, who kept his integrity and dedication to principles right up until the end. The key Schorr story is his appearance on Nixon’s enemies, of which he was unaware until he read the list live on the air. His NPR commentaries were useful and not polemical, as Senate historian Donald Ritchie said in this NPR obit:
“What passes for commentary today is almost all opinion, but Schorr was part of that breed of commentators who dug up information before they pontificated about it.”
So, in that spirt, some recommended reading of the week:
1. Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell on how (and why) to tell a journalist from a blogger. Highlights:
9. A journalist isn’t a spy or a snitch.
This is where bloggers have fucked over journalists more colossally than I can comfortably express.
A couple bloggers posing as journalists spied, snitched — and did so in a way that benefited almost no one except the bloggers themselves — and now all producers of media are painted as untrustworthy vultures.
The true journalist relies on deep knowledge of his beat, close relationships with industry experts, and dedication to his craft. He has the kind of skill that makes for a 20-year career in reporting, not the kind of childish sneakiness that makes for a one-time pageview blockbuster.
10. A journalist is passionate about journalism.
Finally, and most obviously, the journalist loves journalism. He may complain about it, but you aren’t likely to find him changing careers any time soon. He cares not just about his job but about his profession, and he will defend its ranks from the amateurs who sully it.
The blogger will invoke the word “journalism” and call himself a journalist, but he has no understanding of what those words mean. It’s one thing to wax poetic about “hard-hitting journalism.” It’s another thing to use the Inverted Pyramid, develop and adhere to a style guide, work with PR people with some kind of integrity, develop features and breaking news stories separate from opinion and editorial, and generally conduct oneself as a journalist.
A blogger touting his love for journalism is like a high school choir girl saying she loves opera: She might be sincere, but she’s got a hell of a lot to learn.
2. The BK Recessionist, Don’t hate them because they’re apathetic, on the phenomenon of Gen Yers turning down job offers at a high rate. Highlight:
But perhaps these well-educated (and, importantly, well-informed) college grads are just no longer willing to settle for the shitty hand their counterparts have played in years past. Maybe they are sick of employers taking advantage of a competitive market to expand the (already obnoxious) phenomenon of unpaid internships beyond part-time, supplemental learning experiences into full-time, full-responsibility, unpaid jobs.
I say right on, Gen Y. You may be hyperactive and cocky, but you sure know how to stick it to the man.
3. This remembrance of Schorr by NPR’s Scott Simon, which contains a great Frank Zappa appearance:
4. And, just for funblr:
Summer Rules! via Jennifer Holder
I dunno about that BK Recessionist post. On an individual level turning down a job offer might be the right thing to do (like you, Donnelly, were probably wise to reject the offers you were given because newspapers are a horror show), but on a mass level that statistic, to me, is more alarming than anything else. There’s not enough information there to glean anything with any certainty, but my first thought was that our generation is full of assholes, myself included. Seriously. If you look at the statistics and a number of recent studies, our generation has the highest expectations of any American generation and 90 percent of us are woefully under-informed about our approaching reality, which is we will make less and be worth less than our parents were. We will be less satisfied with our work, we’ll have smaller incomes and some researchers think we may die earlier as well due to the attendant unhappiness. (But, because we’ll have to be more entrepreneurial, we’ll probably have more control… but, still, less money.) How many people do we know who have quit their jobs to go to law school only to find that they can’t find the jobs or salaries they want. Why? Because the cost of an undergraduate education has fallen so much over the last several decades, most people can get one. Which makes the degree kinda worthless. (Which it should be because unless you’re majoring in engineering or math or something in the sciences, college is too balls-easy to pay all that money to get that degree.) Plus, we all want $100,000 salaries because our frickin’ parents had those, and in this country you have to do better than your parents. So, the average undergraduate looks at his or her skill set and says, “Well, numbers are tricky, so I’ll get a law degree.” And pretty soon we have a wild overabundance of law students, and there aren’t enough baby boomer attorneys headed for retirement to keep their seats warm for all our students. Our children will be going to college in places like Beijing and Mumbai for the same reasons we drives Hondas (and rightfully so) instead of Fords. We’re too theoretical and impractical. We have more credentials than we ever had before and yet we’re less productive and pliant. If I ever have a grandson, the kid is probably going to have to move to Karachi to get a job. And he won’t have to worry about getting kidnapped by terrorists because all the terrorists will be wearing track suits and eating Domino’s and ending their marriages and attending birthday parties and repaving their driveways and playing in Matchbox 20 cover bands and exporting their jobs back to North Carolina because by then we’ll be willing to work for less than the Pakistanis.
It’s an interesting debate, and I’m not sure what the ultimate root cause is. I don’t know if I believe whole “overly coddled” label people attach to our generation, because a lot of us are more self-reliant than generations before us, thanks to the internet and the flat-earth effect created by technology. I think you can look at it two ways Cribbs: either people in our generation are wildly unrealistic and will therefore never be happy (or maybe be employed at all) in today’s gritty, dirty job market; or, conversely our generation has observed the mistreatment their predecessors received by putting themselves at the mercy of the market and refused to get sucked in too. I remember growing up looking around at adults in New Jersey and seeing far too many people who were clearly miserable in their jobs yet continued to plug away at them mindlessly, complaining all the while. Maybe we’re overly optimistic about our options, and keep educating ourselves out of hope that some level of accreditation will open a magic door to the realm of truly enriching career.
I’ve seen some people talk about anecdotal evidence of what you mentioned: people will be more entrepreneurial, less well-compensated, but happier all along. The theory goes that if you’re working for your own dream (starting your own site, opening your own business) is inherently more fulfilling than working for someone else at a half-passionate level, even if you’re financially struggling along the way. Accepting a job offer is the easy thing to do, of course, but turning it down is a scary prospect, even if it’s the right one in the long run.
Also, best Cribbster blog comment ever.
This New York Times story, which I just read this morning, says everything I said more eloquently and with evidence.
Regardless, the thing that angers me so much is that all this shit was preordained. This future was clear decades ago and no one really talked about it — except for Haynes Johnson and David Halberstam and some professors and economists no one paid attention to. It annoys me greatly when kids our age get frustrated with the job environment. I just wanna shake them and be like, “Read some fuckin’ pages, assmunches! You know that Asian kid who clawed his way out of a goddamn hovel in the Gansu province so he could attend your ‘safety school?’ Yeah, well that insanity is headed right for your doorstep. And something tells me Wu has got a psychological step up on you dealing with that sort of godless hardship.”
The economic picture may improve slightly but it’s not going to be a full rebound. People have to look at this shit more like a battlefield — like there are enough scraps on the table to feed three people but there are 20 chairs around it. In a situation like that you don’t pass up a paycheck because it’s not “satisfying work.” And if you do make that decision, you better be able to justify it beyond, “I’m going to wait for something better,” and you shouldn’t whine when you’re forced to move back in with your parents. Beyond assuring yourself that you’re ultimately going to be OK, positivity will not serve our generation well. There aren’t going to be easy success stories. This shit is going to be like the late 1800s. You’re going to have to be less risk-averse and more opportunistic. And cash in your pocket is an opportunity even if you have to endure work you’re beyond. That “world economy” that shitty teachers in crappy public schools keep telling students they’re going to have to prepare for — well, it’s too late to prepare. That shit is here now. It’s a fact that people too often prepare for a future similar to their present. Statistically, we have a terrible capacity to underestimate the certainty of great social change and economic calamity. Then we’re like, “Where the fuck was your change on that one, Barack?” And we fail to miss the point, which is that Barack Obama is a man clutching the top of a tin trash can, trying to stop a tidal wave. He can’t save or improve this shit. And this shit isn’t even that bad! It’s just our turn. We ascended, we got bloated and now we’re deflating. We’ll be pushed to the middle of the line. If people want to keep their place they should act accordingly, and I see too many fuckheads our age too entranced by Space Invaders or Shitcrickets or whatever the fuck on their iPhones to notice what’s really going on.
Here’s another relevant story: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/global/28jobs.html?src=me&ref=business
Right now, it’s only the upper white collars who are making the move East because, so far, the majority of opportunities are at that level. But that window is going to widen and Western professionals across the economic spectrum are going to have to consider relocation.
These comments are as true today as they were 10 days ago.
You’re a mad mad man
You watch that Halberstam video, Donnelly? Shit’s the truth. And it was filmed, like, 15 years ago!
are you one of the young hungry people cribbs?
Of course not. Fortunately, I’m right above the drop-off point… for now. There is still a need and a market for what I do. Halberstam is talking about the working class. But he was saying that about 15 years ago. Today, I’d also include the glut of unnecessary college-educated students whose interests and education fill no void in our economy — most egregiously those in law school right now. It is a very real fact that our country has no significant need for lawyers anymore. Over the next 20 years, there will be an increased need for lawyers who can speak more than one language and are schooled in foreign corporate law and crap like that, but going to law school is now just like going to business school to get a degree in finance. It’s not about meaningful work; it’s about salary. It’s about maintaining affluence. That’s counter-productive, and it only benefits the first half of people who get in on the ground floor. After it gets too saturated, the entire market dies as a result. On a scale, every new kid that graduates law school this year will be worth less than his or her counterpart who graduated the year before. The same goes for students getting undergraduate degrees. Our degrees are probably worth about a quarter of what our parents’ degrees were worth. We graduated at the tail end of an era. It’s all downhill from here.