I pretty turned off by both of the readings for today--the Jungers interview and the Freelance section of "Telling True Stories." These pieces, I assume, are meant to show that careers in freelance writing do actually still exist, but here they seem so unappealing I'm not sure I want one.
First, my beef with Junger: He seems to be doing well and is certainly a success story, but he hates it! He hated the fact that his most successful piece of work made him a millionaire. It took away his ability to be Sebastian Junger, the journalist. I don't like the thought of that. Any of the journalists currently being laid off across the country would probably gladly trade places with Junger, but he'd probably accept the trade. That's not good. If the journalists that are having great success seem just as unhappy as those living paycheck-to-paycheck, something is wrong with the industry. I'd love to have written "The Perfect Storm" and, I think, I'd love to make $1.2 million for a story of mine; but I don't think I'd want to be Sebastian Junger. He'd rather chainsaw trees or hang out in Sierra Leone relying on his wits (which I respect, but do not aspire toward) than live off of his successes. This is worrisome as a prospective journalist not wanting to wait until I'm 38 to have any sense of where my life is headed.
As for "Telling True Stories," Jim Collins' section ('Making it as a Freelancer') upset me as well. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but his suggestion seems to be "whore yourself out as a journalist until you find someone willing to pay for your services." Working for an Airline magazine?!? That's supposed to be my motivation as a freelance journalist? Last time I was on a plane (spring break), the magazine mostly featured two-paragraph restaurant reviews and the featured article was "What to do in downtown Durango, Colorado." Really??? Airline magazines? Ick. I did like this quote from Collins, however: "Approach potential subjects saying 'I'm gathering material for an article that I think could be really interesting.' Most people are excited to talk about their lives, work and predicaments." This rings true. Rather than explaining what the heck LakeVoice.org is to elderly interviewees I could have used his line and it probably would have been equally affective and required a much simpler explanation.
My question from today's readings: Am I being too cynical here? Is my nose to the sky or am I on a mysterious high-horse? Is scrounging for PTA newsletters or airline magazines an acceptable use of the skills required to be a journalist? Or could the same skills be better utilized, more lucratively, in a different field? I did appreciate some of Jack Hart's advice. "Be skeptical of victim stories" is a great heads-up and "Don't create false heroes" is good to remember as well. On whole, however, I was not a fan of today's readings.