Journalist…..Jobs in Journalism are rewarding, but very political

The journalism bug bit me at a young age and I chased my dream in high school and
college. Guess it was the Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant shows that inspired me.

Unfortunately, that was TV; this was reality. I worked in TV and at newspapers.
Movies and television often make these out to be glamorous jobs in journalism, but let me assure you
nothing could be further from the truth.  For the rookie, it’s often very long hours
(50-70 per week not uncommon) and the pay is just a crime. Many in management don’t
believe in paying overtime, even when it’s due. I had to file complaints against one
employer (the owner of a small newspaper chain) and my last employer at the Labor
Department. They were burning people out like there was no tomorrow. We should’ve
installed revolving doors.

Working in the press (TV or newsprint) can often be VERY stressful. There is ALWAYS a
push on to get the information out (in its complete form) first and to get it out
completely accurately. TV stations succeed greatly of the former, but quite often blow it
on the latter. And you rarely hear a TV reporter or anchor apologize or admit a mistake.
Newspapers do it every day, and some feel that blows their credibility, but it should do
the opposite.

With about 20 years in the field and four years at my last job as editor in chief, I
was released for political reasons. My publishers were high-ranking members of a political
party. They were drinking buddies with the governor and many US senators. Despite their
efforts to “draft” me, I refused to sign the dotted line on application forms
(for the party) and was fired. The day after election day I was told I was being released
because I did not live in the community. Only two people of the 25-30 working there lived
in the community. (They wanted me there so they could have me there 60-70 hours every
week.) That wasn’t going to happen.

My greatest sense of accomplishment in this business has come from enlightening the
public, making them aware of politicians and government officials breaking laws or just
outright lying. You would not believe all the mess I have seen. Some of my stories and
editorials have earned me awards and a number of them have sparked investigations by the
state police and FBI. All in a day’s work.

Yes, it’s an ego thing at first, but that quickly wears off.  It’s a VERY
cut-throat business. I began to see that in college and grad school. Working in a news
room you have to get over the personalities, the egos and try to work around management’s
pet peeves. We’ve had to spike (kill, censor) stories in TV and at papers because some
stupid advertiser would be upset. Usually a friend of a friend, or a friend of an
advertiser. It’s SUCH a joke.

I now wish I had not changed my major from computer science to journalism. Ouch! I
would be making more money and living an easier life.

My dream is to own a newspaper- probably a niche publication or a trade journal,
somewhere in North Carolina or Colorado. Wish me luck.