Earlier today, an op-ed piece by Héctor Tobar was published in The New York Times titled “Who’d Be a Journalist?” In the piece, Tobar points out the more grim realities of the journalism profession. Contrary to what some people believe, he says, it is not a glamorous line of work. The entry-level jobs are extremely low-paying (Fact: Even in television, a news reporter can make as little as $18,000 a year.) Public trust of the media is at an all-time low. And on top of all that, whenever a journalists goes somewhere on assignment, there are no guarantees that they will even live to tell the story.
In April of 2015, a former reporter at the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, shot and killed two journalists from the station during a live broadcast, and injured a third person. He then led police on an chase which lasted several hours before he shot and killed himself.
Despite these realities, Tobar, a professor at the University of Oregon, encourages his student journalists to ignore the despondency that surrounds the field and its future. He highlights the positive aspects of the profession, like getting to tell stories for a living and seeing things through someone else’s eyes every day.
Personally, I’ve always believed that the most important thing a person can do is to find whatever it is that they genuinely like to do, and then work until somebody is willing to pay them to do it. As a journalism major, I can relate to this piece because though I am aware of the fact that social media is putting journalists out of work, and that people don’t take the media seriously like they used to, and that it’s not always safe, I am still passionate about journalism and will do the best I can to make a living off of it.
Because, in Tobar’s words, people will always have an appetite for true stories well told.