Thursday, September 14, 2006

don't wanna

I don't want to be a journalist anymore.


I want to be a doctor. Or an astronaut. Or a cowgirl.

I should have been a doctor. It's never too late. I could go to medical school. Sure, there's the whole blood, squishy insides, cutting people open...thing but still.

As a doctor there are rules. Very concrete rules that everybody knows like you're not supposed to cut a leg off if there's nothing wrong with the leg, don't steal medical supplies for personal use, etc. etc.

There's the nurses station if you need help, put the gloves on before you do anything and the work is pretty much the same thing day in and day out if you really think about it. You know when you go in, there will be sick people there. And you must fix them. And there are limits to what you can do. You can either clamp the artery or you can't. You either get the tumor out or you don't. People either live or they die. There really is no in between.

There are too many people in Journalism. Too many emotions and feelings to consider. I don't care if people don't like journalists - and thereby don't care for me that much - it's the lack of respect. Not just on behalf of those people to me - standing me up for interviews, not returning my phone calls, giving me the story when it's convenient for them, telling me what the story should be and spinning it as much as they like...

But for the profession in general. I realize that this industry is more commentators and columnists than actually objective journalists... But like those rare shops you find, the Egg Cream place in New York that uses old fashioned, original equipment...the place that only serves repair places that specialize in 40's and 50's models... There are journalists who don't go into the business because they want to be the next Anderson Cooper - persay. Their drive and respect goes to the theory of the game. The story.

They call you up not to be a pest but to write a story that is not just publicity - but in it's own, little way - a tribute. It sounds crazy, I know...

In Journalism 101, my Professor/Editor said that the Obituary page is the most read page in a newspaper because for many people it's the only time their name will be in print. I would write pages for each person, if I could. I would dig into their history and tell their story - not just the when, where, why and how it ended. I'd write about their favorite foods, their daily rituals and the little things only their husbands or wives knew about them. The eccentricities that were hidden even from their parents once they moved out of the house and lived on their own.

I try to approach every story that way. But something always happens. Either the source rushes off the phone with me, or they tell me they want something especially beneficial put in, or they disregard me completely and act as though the renovations to their school building is a government secret and I am a suspicious communist spy looking to infiltrate.

I know there's the long road, the shitty trudge until the job comes at the bigger paper, then the biggerer paper and finally the magazine and the book deal.

But I quite honestly don't know if I'm up for it.

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