Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Journalism Isn't Dead...It's a Zombie.

My mom just sent me an email that listed journalism as one of the worst three jobs. Ever. Like, there's no quantifier in there. Just one of the worst three jobs. This is by Daily Briefing, who uses Bureau of Labor statistics and runs them through a snazzy algorithm, weighing stuff like satisfaction, health risk, stress levels, etc.

You know what the other two worst jobs are, guys?

Enlisted military and lumberjacks.

"One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't belong..."

But, seriously, let's take a look at those two. I mean, it's pretty obvious that one might be dissatisfied in these jobs because they're never home with their loved ones, or because it's really loud and strenuous all the time, and most likely because you make one mistake and you've lost a limb. Like a literal piece of your body. There are legitimate reasons these jobs are considered the worst.

How is journalism even remotely comparable to jobs where if you sneeze you could lose an arm?

First off, I'm absolutely sure the algorithm they used vastly over-accounted for the danger in a journalist's job. Are there reporters who have to put their lives on the line daily to get a story out? Yes. And in those cases, the danger is (or at least can be) as great as a combatant or a lumberjack.

But let's be real. That is not like 99 percent of journalists. For every one person risking their hide for a story, there are 200 more back at home, typing it up, making it pretty, calling "officials" etc. And it's actually that 99 percent that puts journalism on this list.

In no other line of work is the expectation of what you will be doing so very far from what you will actually be doing.

Think about the people who "become journalists." They're young, creative, idealistic, adventurous kids who get into this racket to be young, creative, idealistic and adventurous. And they're sold a false bag of goods.

People go into journalism to be this:

Bernstein and Woodward as dramatized by Hoffman and Redford.

And this:

Fictional hero of journalists everywhere.

I mean, we go in to find the good stuff on the bad guys, give no fucks, write it up with no shit from management because it's an important story and come and go as we please, fighting the good fight. We want to meet witnesses in bars, and buy coffee for corrupt police officers. We want to hide in the back of a truck bed, scribbling notes as a stolen bunch of paintings whizzes out of state. We want to find the exciting shit and grab on for the ride, stopping only when it's freaking over to type our fingers to the bone while swigging freaking beer and talking to our best friends about the coolest shit ever that just freaking happened, oh my God. And we want to tell the truth and change the world. We want to expose the faults and get them fixed. And we want to do it our way, on our time, with no used-up authority figure telling us we have to "tone it down" or we can't use a fantastic quote because "the police/government/our own corporation won't like it."

Nah, dude. We journalists. We gettin' this shit done.

Sure, your Jskool prof tells you in his steely, tired voice that you'll be eating bologna sandwiches for the rest of your life, and your ear will be attached to the phone, and you'll never, EVER, get paid any money. But do you listen?


You are a journalist. No negative nelly is going to stop you in your unquenchable thirst for justice and truth! Plus, you are a kid. You're convinced that old prof just 'did it wrong.' You'll do it right.

Womp womp womp.

So, unsurprisinglly, after your 3000th stupid town meeting and between your 500th and your 800th politely worded obituary, it's no wonder you lose your way. Journalists have to pay dues, apparently. (Which is dumb, btw). And those dues pretty much never end these days. There is no exciting story to be covered and if there ever were one, the corporations in control of the newsrooms would sap the life out of it as quickly as they sapped the life out of your immediate supervisor.

I mean, let's not forget about that guy, right? So, not only do you drag your ass to work every day to phone the town council president to talk about petunia growth in your town square while trying not to stab out your own eyeballs with the pencil you keep for taking very quick, important notes (that you've never even had to use one time), you also have to do that for eight hours straight with that guy staring right at you, waves of animosity just rolling off him.

Don't get me wrong. There are a million awesome people in journalism. They're tired, and broken, and disappointed, and sad (for the most part), but awesome. Then there are these guys. These guys who are just sure that your mere existence is a threat to them. You're going to take their scoop (on what, dude? The pony parade coming to town? Because that's all your corporate head lets you report anyway), or their validation (he really needed that 'you should have been nominated for a webby' comment, okay?), or worst of all, they think you'll take their job.

That's a legit concern, by the way, and it rounds out our ways in which journalism is the worst of the worst of jobs. There is no job security at all. Like AT ALL. Take news directors in broadcast, for example. On average, they last 18 months. These are the top dogs, people. Any further up the line and you're corporate. ON AVERAGE, they last 18 months. Fuck me typing if a producer or reporter is going to last that long unless they become the perfect yesman.

Journalist. Pusher of truth. The perfect yesman.

"One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't belong..."

So, yeah, what this messed-up recipe yields is a whole lot of burned out, bitter, poor, automatons, saying yes to every stupid-assed decision and every ethically questionable agenda that comes their way for fear of losing the job they do for PENNIES, because they're supposedly in it for the love of it.

We say in mass comm grad school that journalism is dead, a lot. We're talking, of course, about the outmoded newspaper model. But it's so much more than that. And we're not even going to go into the blatant sexism and bullshit that goes on. Or how about how everyone not only hates us, but also thinks they can do our job. Like, everyone thinks they can just write. It is infuriating, no? That's another couple of posts.

The internet didn't kill journalism. It's been dead for a long time. Journalism is a zombie.


There is hope.

One of you suckers out there in internet-land is going to come up with a new model that turns everything completely on its head because in internet-land, we are no longer beholden to hours, and yeses, and phone calls to petty officials and bosses, and bullshit. Someone out there is going to break this shit. And they're going to put up something else. And I will be on that bandwagon.

Because I'm in journalism to be Fletch, dammit.

And no amount of firing me, telling me I'm a piece of shit, or making me rewrite a 20-second voice over about a car crash with no injuries that happened three days ago is going to stop me. And I know I'm not alone.

So, let's do this, journalists. Let's JOURNALISM.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney Trip!

Sometimes, you take a day and go to Disney. It's not often, and it's a lot of work, but it's definitely worth at least one trip for the kids. And lucky for us, we don't live far, so we don't have to go for more than a day. Phew!

On our way. Monorail isn't as awesome when you're an adult, fyi.

The kids LOVED this fountain outside of a restaurant to wash their hands.

Waiting waiting waiting in lines.

Dulce's favorite part was this roller coaster.

Princesses. Obviously.

My favorite Disney character.

Right outside one of the lands. Tomorrowland, I think.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipe Monday - Onion Chutney

This actually comes from a friend of mine and not me. So you know it's good. She says it tastes great on basically everything.

2 onions, finely chopped
4 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 small tomato, seeded, chopped
3 tbs tomato paste 
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1) In a bowl, combine onions, 3 tsp of the vinegar, and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2) Rinse the onions lightly, then drain and pat them dry.

3) In a bowl, combine onions, remaining 1 tsp of vinegar, bell pepper, tomato, tomato paste, vegetable oil, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and mix well.

Add garam masala, pepper, and salt as needed to taste. If you like it mild, stick to the given amounts. I ended up added a bunch more to make it nice and spicy. Generally, the chutney will be better after it sits for a while to let the flavors meld together.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kindergarten Kids - What to Do about the Damn Phone


Your kids could be silently behaving for hours on end, playing nicely, giggling, leaving you in utter peace and quiet, giving you the most idyllic of days.

Then their Spidey sense activates. You've taken out the phone and put it to your ear somewhere in the house.

Tantrum Engage! Suddenly, the only thing they can think to do is maul each other, screaming and crying the whole time. There's toy throwing, there's inconsolable sobbing, there's the inevitable child following you around looking for justice... "MOM, SHE _______ ME!"

Meanwhile, you just wish you had a kid-sized fly swatter. Why do they do this? Not only is it annoying to the tech person, teacher, interviewee (I'm a journalist), or anyone on the other end, it's mortifying.

I mean, is it their main goal in life to make me look like the worst parent ever at all times?!


There are a couple different ways you can go.

First, you can try telling them to stop. It won't work (probably) but you've got to keep that hope alive, right? I mean, maybe today's the day!

When that doesn't work, put yourself in another room. Lock the door if you must (my kids are five, so that's okay for me to do). Usually, of course, they'll hang right outside the door, screaming into it.

If that is the case, tell the person on the other end to hold on. Put them on mute to spare them as you go into the battlefield. Discipline your kids in the manner of a crazy person who's just been humiliated in front of some stranger they need help from. Put kids in room. Go outside. Walk a bit away from the house. Apologize to other party on the phone and quickly finish up.

The most important part of this happens after the phone call. My kids are actually finally getting better about phone calls after months of me doing this.

After it's over, go and talk to your kids calmly. Tell them the behavior is unacceptable and sometimes you are going to be on the phone and that you expect them to act appropriately when you are. This isn't going to work, of course, but after millions of repetitions of the same thing, it seems the kids are starting to get an inkling that the phone is not their enemy and they can just chill out when you're on it.

If you always do the same thing (I always go outside to the front porch when the call is important and verbally cue them that I am on a phone call and I'll be back in a minute) they get used to it via pattern recognition and do even better at laying off.

Alternately, never use the phone again.




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