First of all, let me apologize for the brief hiatus. I've been concentrating on law school applications and publishing my "station mandated" blog (which is definitely not as interesting as this masterpiece!). Needless to say, I haven't had much time to write. Don't worry my friends, I am back... and back with a vengeance!! So here goes nothing...
If I could offer one word of advice to aspiring journalists who are contemplating embarking on a career in television news, it would be this: don't do it! Now don't get me wrong, these last few years have been full of awesome adrenaline pumping situations, and once in a lifetime opportunities. There have been days where I seriously couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. I love shooting video, meeting new people, and knowing what is going on in the community. My passion is visual storytelling. I can't explain how excited I get at the prospect of a really powerful, colorful, news event. I know, I know... I sound like a total dork right now, but it's true. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I walk out of the newsroom on my way to a potentially great NAT package. The natural high of endless opportunity waiting for me at an event is like no other... Especially knowing that I am in total control of the end product.
Similarly, I still get excited when I turn on the tv and see my work broadcasting to the world. Granted, as a news photographer, nobody knows that it is something I've produced. But I know. I know the painstaking attention that I gave to every single edit. I know the time and effort that went into the final product. And although I may not ever get viewer credit for what I've accomplished, I know that because of my work our viewers are able to experience at least a hint of what it was really like to be at the scene.
Having said that, I'm starting to think that it is time for me to hang my hat on the news business. It is a sad day when this corrupt industry could take such a passion, such a calling, and squeeze the life out of it. Although I haven't given up all hope yet, I'm starting to think that is the direction this particular dream of mine is going.
So now the question is why? Why would I ever give up something that has brought me so much joy and excitement over the last few years of my life? Well, let me tell you.
I did not get into this business to get rich. I knew as a photographer I would never be famous. I certainly didn't expect bankers hours and holiday's off. No, I got into this business because I have a passion for storytelling, and an addiction to knowledge. I did however hope that by the age of 25 I would be able to afford a small one bedroom apartment, gas for my car, food on the table, and some extra money for beer. Of course a limited shopping budget would be appreciated.
I knew that the work wouldn't always be easy. When I first embarked on this journey into television news, I knew that I would have to prove myself to my colleagues, and earn what little pay I received. I was willing to go the extra mile... Learn the Satellite truck... Write stories for the newscast... Even report if necessary. I was willing to do what it took to make a few extra pennies, so at the end of the day I could live comfortably in my miniature apartment.
To be honest, I still am willing to put in 110 percent. When you love what you do, giving 110% isn't difficult. It is almost natural. But I won't do it for free. Only a fool works himself into the ground and has nothing to take away from it at night. Only a fool agrees to long hours, uncertain work conditions, and ever changing expectations without demanding something in return.
The news business is changing. Since I first crossed the threshold into the "professional" realm, I've known that little fact. I considered myself lucky that I was capable of adapting to the changing times. I knew that my youth would eventually work in my favor. What I didn't know was that part of that change included expecting people to accomplish tasks that they've never been trained for, and refusing to pay them for the work they actually do.
As our station joins the ranks of news organizations nationwide who are adopting a news platform based on "multi media journalists," I personally have become a victim of "the changing times." MMJ's are essentially one person crews. They shoot video, write stories, voice packages, update the web, and somehow in the course of the day manage to sneak in a blog post and a few twitter updates. Let me make myself clear, I have no problem with a platform based on the work of MMJ's. I think they provide a level of efficiency otherwise absent from newsroom.
My problem is that people who were not hired as MMJ's, or paid the going rate for MMJ's are expected to do the work of MMJ's (and smile while doing it!). As you may have already guessed, I am one of those people. I am struggling to find the balance between what I love to do, and what I am expected to produce. But that is a completely different story, that I look forward to telling in future posts.