Does anybody read these?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fourth Estate

You probably already know that yesterday, two photojournalists were killed in Libya. What you may not know is that one of them, Chris Hondros, was a graduate of the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University and an active alumnus. In fact, the director of the school told The Post yesterday that Hondros had delayed a presentation to the VisCom students to go back to Libya.

I was in Athens the same time Chris Hondros was. The VisCom students were in a separate school and tucked away from all the J-school students, so our paths probably didn't cross. I recognize his name, but it could be from seeing one of his photos around campus or something. It could also be because he was a Pulitzer-nominated, award-winning photojournalist.

But as we Bobcats mourn the loss of one of us, and as we journalists mourn a fallen member of the press, it gave me pause to think about my own journey and where I am and where I'll never be.

I've always been a good writer. When I was in 4th grade, I won a contest for a fiction short story, which was published in the local newspaper. I got to meet a real writer who critiqued my work, but when you're 8 years old, the most exciting part was that we got to have a hot school lunch, which was rare in Catholic school.

I'll never forget in 8th grade, we had an English assignment of writing a movie review. Everyday when my dad came home from work, I read his copy of the Detroit News, and the movie reviews were my favorite part. I read every single one, even though I could count the number of times I got to go to the theater on one hand. So, needless to say, the teacher wondered if my review was my own. She finally concluded that my work reflected my voracious love of reading.

By the time high school rolled around, I was reporting on the school newspaper and was the editor my senior year. I also got involved in a mentoring program at the local newspaper and did some writing for them, as well. Most of it never left the newsroom, but working with real reporters and editors was awesome.

At some point, I decided I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I think it was when I went to Europe in high school. Of course, I spoke Spanish which meant my foreign correspondent assignments would probably not be in France or Italy. But, still when I arrived at journalism school, my advisor thought this was the perfect plan. And she gave me a little advice: Always keep your passport current.

But somewhere along the way, the lines got blurry. My career as a top-notch, objective reporter got waylaid when I decided to get political and fight for student financial aid. But now there's Fox News (ironically run by another Ohio grad) and MSNBC where the news personalities are actually political figures. Hell, even my longtime crush George Stephanapolous is now anchoring the morning news despite having been Bill Clinton's press secretary. So, the lines are blurry for me, and for journalism as a whole. And there's comfort in hanging your hat in the same place every night and knowing there'll be food on your table at night.

And, as wimpy as this sounds, there's a big advantage to not getting shot at when you go to work. (Although it can get a little dicey in the 'hood where we have our offices sometimes.)

I even let my passport expire, which was not good the time I was supposed to make a last-minute trip to Tel Aviv for work. Someone else had to go, and I went to get a new passport the following week.(Now I find my passport comes in handy for trips to Jost Van Dyke and Canada.)

I feel kind of like a jerk and a sell-out right now. I took the safe life with a cushy office job, and once in a while I interview someone about the latest and greatest innovations in caring for the elderly. The highlight of my career in recent years has been interviewing an up-and-coming country singer who wrote a song about Alzheimer's disease. And even though I'm not making friends with dissidents to topple a government with my investigative reporting, people still benefit from my wonderful press release on National Nursing Home Week.

I guess what I need to remind myself is that there are a lot more PR jobs out there than there are jobs for ace reporters traveling the globe. So, I'm not Anderson Cooper or Christiane Amanpour. I'm still talented and people still enjoy what I'm writing. In fact, when I recently announced that it was time to resurrect my half-finished novel, people went a little crazy with anticipation.

So, that's good even if I'm not going to be on CBS Evening News tonight. (But one of my PR clients was. In 2001. That's why I often tell people I reached the pinnacle of my career at 25.)

I don't believe that's true. I think I've got a lot more good to do, but I think I need to start doing it before I get any further behind with my notable elderly people.

0 comment(s):

Post a comment

<< Home