There is a general perception in journalism — and, as journalists set the tone for societal discourse, a perception in society at large — that reporters/journalists don’t make as much money as they deserve. We’re poor, down-trodden, and struggling for our craft.
This, I’m pretty sure, is crap.
(Not that I didn’t buy a Mega Millions ticket for tonight, because I did.)
I’m not saying some of the pay in the ‘journalism’ industry doesn’t suck, because it does. There are plenty of publications that want to pay you $20 for an article that’ll take four hours of work. There are also a lot of places asking you to work for free or intern or gain valuable experience.
But, this hasn’t produced a legion of poor journalists. It’s produced a legion of middle-class and wealthy journalists, who only got a leg up because they can afford to work for $5/hour. Who exactly do you think is writing for free experience? It’s not someone who’s working 14 hours a day to pay bills.
Journalism has become the playground of the well-to-do.
It’s not the only industry where this is true obviously. The detrimental effects of non-paying internships on genuine diversity are well documented.
But it is particularly true with respect to journalism school, which has very few endowments, grants, or fellowships. It is simply rich kids playing at fake journalism — which is something really bitchy I said to Christine after she got into Cal’s J-School.
The thing is I have no doubt that she is technically (as in having a special technique or skill) a better journalist than I am after going to J-School, especially when it comes to audio and video. She does better work than I do and I know that she worked to save up money before applying.
But, it was never an option for me. And, I know it was more not an option for other people.
This came up because I was at a networking discussion group thing last night and everyone kept theorizing that because journalists don’t make enough money, they really don’t have an understanding of money or the wealthy and can’t report accurately on them. I would argue that because journalists don’t make enough money, they don’t really have an understanding of having to make money or the poor and can’t report accurately on them.