How miserable is the state of newspaper journalism these days? So awful that not even the top editors at the Harvard Crimson, one of the most venerable college newspapers in the country, actually want to be journalists when they graduate.
It's something of a joke among recent Ivy League graduates that all their old bohemian newspaper pals eventually give up their awful $15,000-a-year police beat reporting gigs at small regional papers and go to a respectable law school. Both professions require endless hours of thankless toil in front of a computer, but at least one lets you afford groceries every now and then.
Each and every college newspaper drone from the class of 2009 onward is doomed to become a lawyer. Look, definitive proof from two Harvard student newspaper staffers:
“I never really considered things like law school until I realized what the state of the industry was,” said Christian Flow, 20, a junior from Baltimore who is an associate managing editor.
[...] Undergraduates considering journalism avoid mentioning it in front of classmates, wanting to avoid expressions of concern, if not ridicule, said Abigail Phillip, 20, a junior editor from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “People will undoubtedly tell you ‘Don’t do it,’” she said. “I tell my parents, ‘I’ll do this for two years and I’ll go to law school, I promise.’”
You know that your profession has sunk to new lows when people start saying they'd rather be lawyers in order to avoid ridicule.
So what's the problem with journalism? In addition to the horrible pay there's the fact that newspapers just aren't hiring. And that is why, paradoxically, journalism-inclined undergrads go into other professions while enrollment in journalism graduate schools swells. What better way to weather a recession than spending a few years and a hundred thousand dollars on an advanced degree in a field that can't possibly hope to offer you employment once you're out?
Oh, but don't worry, graduate students of journalism. You're still not as pathetic as the creative writing MFAs!
It's too bad that in five or ten years we won't have anybody doing real reporting, and all the formerly respectable news sites will just be a collection of celebrity Tumblrs and vapid commentary from parasitical hacks like your own Sara K. Smith. Fortunately, we'll all be dead by then.