16 August 2005
They used to be "reporters"
"If you are going to be a journalist," says Orville Schell, Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of California, "repayment must come in some other currency than dollars. One of those alternative currencies journalism trades in is 'able to make a difference'."
That "alternative currency" and $4.99, I suspect, will get you Combo Meal #2 at participating locations for a limited time only, tax not included.
Saying that journalism is just a job is not to demean journalism. It is as honorable a way to make a living as tallying wodgets or repairing cars or writing computer code. And just as there are great code jocks who do have an impact beyond their own job, and mechanics who are true artists, there are journalists who do manage to have an effect, however transitory, on the larger culture. But that is not a function of journalism, per se. It's a function of individual talent, which, if great enough, will usually surmount all restraints.
Journalists go to work and do their jobs to earn a paycheck and provide the necessities for themselves and their families. The notion that their job is something intrinsically greater than that is, well, silly. If you don't think so, ask all the journalists in the US to work for nothing more than the chance to "make a difference," and see how many you have showing up in the newsroom the next day.
I have no illusions that anything I do at 42nd and Treadmill, a job only dimly related to anything journalistic, has the slightest effect on the Grand Scheme of Things; I put in my hours, deposit almost enough money to pay the bills, and the cycle repeats. The only "difference" I need to make is in the lives of my immediate family.
And if I inadvertently impart some wisdom through this Web site well, that's just a chance I'll have to take.Posted at 9:38 AM to Almost Yogurt