meditations on journalism, buddhism and the future

So, I’ve been pretty quiet about where I work now.

I’m not sure why. It could be slight amounts of shame, it could be that I’m just not ready. But, for now, I’ve made a move away from journalism. It wasn’t really planned and I’m not sure it’s forever, but I’m certainly learning a lot and trying something new.

I’m working as an editor at a online marketing company. That’s as specific as I’m going to get now, though it’s not hard to figure out where I am if you do some sleuthing.

I think getting the boot two journalism jobs in a row has put a slightly sour taste in my mouth. If I do go back to journalism, it’ll be with the satisfaction that I know it is what I love.

Journalism and Meditation: Leaving the Door Open

I’ve been struggling a lot with dealing with that. I’m very career oriented, always have been, so a deviation of path is frightening to me.

This is going to sound off-topic, but stay with me here. I went to a mediation session on Monday and sat for 30 min, with lots of thoughts about my future, my life and my job in my head. There was a short dharma talk after, but the best part of the night was a conversation with my friend.

Another friend of ours is amazingly successful at what she does. But the thing that was brought up to me was that most people who are extremely successful leave the door open to possibility, while making the most of where they are.

I have not been doing that.

It’s Not Time Now

Lately, I’ve been working with journalism organizations on the side, ONA and AAJA, as well as co-founding #wjchat, a weekly web journalism Twitter chat.

I’ve stopped looking for freelance work (although I’ll take it if it comes along).

I’m a fountain of advice that I rarely follow myself, and it’s high time I stop that.

Journalism is still my first love, and always will be, but the door is open. Maybe this is a new path for me, maybe a slight divergence. Regardless, I’m 27 and there is plenty of time to figure it out.

Gen Y, as amazing as we are, is a little…..impatient. I’m impatient. I want the best of my career, this second.

It’s not going to happen. The people I admire most, my friends who have accomplished so much and who I model myself after, they are older.

It’s hard to remember that I’m young sometimes, oddly. I feel like a curmudgeon. My cynicism has gotten away from me.

Going With it

So, I’m resolving to go with it, from this minute. Social media is fantastic. I love it. I love editing, I love web production, I love data visualization, I love journalism, I love pushing boundaries.

Where does that get me? God knows.

But we’re leave the door open and maybe the path I’m on will lead to something great. If not, I’ll take a shortcut through the woods.

It’s OK.

goals

I was e-mailing with a great business owner the other day and he asked me what my short and long term goals are.

It’ll be good to have these down of (psuedo) paper, so here is an edited version.

1) I’d love to get into blogging more and sharpen my writing. One of my goals is to take my existing blog to the next level or get in with a blog and get big enough that I can call myself a problogger. Being able to write every day is the goal here.

2) I love web production — the act of making sites and content better is invigorating. I Iike being part of the process of improving a site and how it works for its users. There’s so few producers/editors, I think there’s a real shot of success for me in the next 5ish years.

3) In like 10 years, I’d be the editorial director of a site, so I can be involved in both the writing and production. I used to think that it would have to be a journalism-oriented site, but anymore it doesn’t seem to matter. E-commerce, blog, news, it’s all where I want to be.

4) I really want to be part of something that becomes bigger and important. It’s one of the reasons I loved journalism — I felt like I was doing something I could be proud of at the end of the day. I’ve realized something doesn’t have to be blatantly making a difference, but it has to be doing awesome things I personally believe in.

I want to be part of a company, an idea, that cares about the future and wants help their employees succeed. I’ve worked for too many places that only see their employees as just workers, as opposed to people with dreams and goals.

worth it?

I was reading this post written by an intern, which in my opinion is a scary place to be.

It’s one thing to be in journalism and try to hold on, it’s another to be entering the field and have hope.

I’m glad Jessica has hope. I agree with her that things have to and will change. We will all have jobs, we will all still be journalists, but we’ll be doing something different.

I am tired of hyperlocal being toted as the savior. Innovation is the savior. I’ve watched hyperlocal fail.

We need to find a way to deliver the news to people, quickly, instantly and well.

Does it mean Twitter will be a newsroom or that papers will all be on the Kindle? No idea.

I think first, we need to think about catching up. Media needs to start hiring people (ahem, me) that use the web the way that the next generation does. We need to stop being afraid of change and “scaring readers.” It’s great to hold onto the things that the rapidly aging stereotypical newspaper reader likes, but really, they will not be the ones buying ads and subscriptions in 20 years.

Make your site mobile friendly. It’s ridiculous how many sites are not. I, and most people I know have a Blackberry or iPhone or at least Internet on their phones. Get used to it.

Get a Twitter feed and use it well. Establish a presence, even if it’s not the best, on all the other social networking sites.

Fix your RSS feeds, for God’s sake. Make sure they all work, and there is one for every section, every blog, every columnist.

Redesign your site so you don’t look like you came from 1995.

Train all your photographers to do video, and while you’re at it, the reporters too.

Have everyone try liveblogging and at least understand what this new fangled social media is about and how it works.

One of my friends recently told me her newspaper didn’t even have blogs. Really? And you ask why people won’t log onto the site?

Let your staff try new things and let them fail. Know when to give up, when to try again and when to start.

Maybe it’s because I’m an idealist, 25 and want to have hope that this will all come out for the better, but I don’t see why this is so hard. This is not a curmudgeon versus rookie debate. Let’s stop fighting. It’s ridiculous the amount of space and time that journalists spend arguing about why we are failing. I don’t care. Figure out who is succeeding and ask yourselves why they can do it, but you can’t.

It is worth it, if you take the time to try.