This past week I took off for Chicago for UNITY 2008, a quadrennial conference put on by the major minority journalist orgs.
I always get little sleep and have lots of fun — seeing old colleagues, meeting new people and remembering why I love this business.
This year I felt odd. I am one of the few laid-off young journalists I’ve heard of. I was still able to come (thanks to the folks at McClatchy, most of whom I do not hold a grudge), so I could look at all the gloom and doom statements with a little bit of experience.
On top of that, I was cruising the career fair for jobs, this time as a web producer.
Before leaving for the conference, I scheduled a couple of interviews with non-journalism companies looking for editors or marketing people. I was running low on faith that the industry had anything for me anymore. I had been beat up and turned out by journalism and I wasn’t sure I could go back in.
After returning, I’m not so sure. I realize I do have a perspective that isn’t out there.
I am an Asian American woman, who happens to love being a journalist and happens to love the web. That is rare.
There are other journalists who are doing it. There are other web folk that are pushing the envelope and I had several really positive discussions on the future of the web. I also had some bad discussions with recruiters and editors who did not really like the web.
I may have regained my faith. There are not many of us, but we are there. We can change the way journalism works and we can do it while maintaining and hopefully gaining diversity in newsrooms. I realize that I am rare and that if I leave, there will be one less minority view in the media, something desperately needed.
As budget have shrank, no one thinks about minorities. There are few internships anymore and the larger fellowship programs have mostly been cut. My company made the mistake of laying off a young, fresh, talented minority journalist and I had more than one person totally agree that it was a poor decision.
I want to try to make a difference and I don’t need a byline to make it. I can do it by helping newspapers figure out the web.
I hope this feeling lasts.