Sunday, September 28, 2008

an uncertain future

Crap, I can't believe it's almost October. This semester certainly has been a challenge, but, taking it one day at a time, the weeks pass. It's taken me this long to feel like I'm back on top of things, keeping up with my work, navigating the slue of bureaucratic advising appointments, acquainting myself with my new professors.

I don't like my classes as much as last semester, but they're all necessary to my major, so whatever. I'll get through them, even if I learn nothing in my sociology class, which is a total joke.

This semester, I had a drastic crisis of confidence. Perhaps as a result of writing two major papers, reporting for the State Press, getting a job, and struggling with an excruciatingly annoying sleep schedule, I felt horrible about everything. Honestly, those few first weeks were incredibly depressing. I spent every moment, from the time I woke to the time I fell asleep working while my friends enjoyed the relaxing period of the first weeks of school.

Luckily, things have improved. Still busy, I'm handling things better—and I believe my writing improved substantially.

But all that's beside the point, or rather, a means to the point. During that hard time for me, I worried constantly for my future: whether to change majors, what the outcome of my education should be, can I live with the choices I'm making? I can't say why those questions haunted my sleep, but they would not leave, keeping me as constant company in their damning uncertainty.

Philosophically, no one can know the consequences of their choices, but some futures are more certain than others. Soon, our nation will use $700 billion to buy failed mortgages from financial institutions, which hope to make their futures more certain—or at least easy. It's unbelievable to contemplate: so much of our economic structure built on IOU's and bundled loans. People point fingers at the president, the banks, the economists. I don't want to point fingers; I want to express my sympathy.

A powerful county like ours can rest assured that its hubris will be its undoing. How much could be accomplished with $700 million? How many children educated? How many illnesses cured? How much debt renounced?

At least we will learn something: how many banks can be saved.

Money can push the limits of motivation. In the face of so many issues confronting our society (there's never a shortage) the financial crisis raises easily to the forefront of our concern. And why not? Our society places so much emphasis on money—earning, saving, spending—as to measure life-long success on its accumulation. I don't claim superiority over this problem either. I'm worried; worried because journalism doesn't pay well.

But I've resolved to value life's adventure over a good paycheck. I want to live not for my paycheck but on it. This path leads to uncertain places and a lot of pressure to perform. At least now, I have confidence in myself to embark on the journey. I hope our country—and myself—knows what its doing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

front-page invisible

Journalists are invisible. Well, the vast majority are. It's amazing to think about pushing your work onto print every day and hoping someone takes notice. Good journalism focuses entirely on the story, leaving only the small area between the headline and the lede (yes, journalists spell lead, lede.—why? Because we're pretentious like that.) to give some recognition to the hours of work and stress put into getting that story done on deadline. "By Ronnie McNewsman"—that's all you get. Can you remember the author of the last article you read? I can't.

Delusions of grandure are an integral part of the jouranlist dream. The majority of people don't enter this thankless, poorly paid, long-houred job without the idea of busting open the next Watergate, myself included. However, I'm beginning to understand—as are most people around me—that recognition will come slowly, if at all, and it takes intrinsic motivation to keep yourself going.

That's why you have to be a journalist for one of two things: yourself or your story. Some people genuinely want to help others through their work. I refuse to believe anyone enters journalism soley for the public good, but I've talked to many students and graduates that recall great moments when their work helped someone—in a drastic or small way.

I've had some serious doubts about my career path lately, but I'm feeling better now. I made some mistakes. Nothing drastic but I faced my first correction on Monday. In retrospect, it's just a sign of becoming a bona fided, hard-shelled journalist. There should be plent of corrections from here on out. Of course I'll try my best to minimize them but I'm not afraid of my mistakes (so long as I keep my job of course).

I realize, I write this blog to give myself an open forum. Everything I write is front page here, my life is my beat, and I have no deadline or editor. It's my release, my stage, my spotlight in the dark.

I'd also like to say, when a journalists ask you "how's it going," they mean it. Not because you're the subject of a story but because they know what it is to be stressed, to be critized, to be at wit's end, to be invisible. Journalists, or atleast the ones I know, make great listeners, and friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

screw writing

Out of fairness I think I should warn you that this blog is mostly rant. More insightful postings will follow.

Between trying to finish two papers on Russian society, something I have no intrinsic knowledge of, and working for the State Press at ASU, I'm finished. My mind goes numb as soon as my butt hits the computer chair. Lately, my sentences all seem dry, unimaginative, and downright bad.

It always irks me when I can't write properly. Beyond hampering my academic and journalistic life, it disrupts my sense of myself. I need more time. "Journalists must learn to work on deadline," they say. Well screw them. Deadline kills my creativity. Even the sound of the word puts me in a panic-induced coma. Yet, here I am writing this blog. I think I need this. It gives me a reason to write beyond the fear of deadlines and fact checking.

I'm off to finish another story now. The journalistic trial-by-fire continues!