Why I left Journalism… or did I?

I have my BS in Journalism. The degree hangs on my office wall. It’s signed by Robert Gates… you know him. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Yup… he handed me my diploma. Told us if we looked to see if it was REALLY in our tubes at graduation they would disappear… CIA kinda stuff. You probably had to be there to find that funny.

I did good in my J-School classes. I’d have to pull my records now, but I think I pulled a 3.5 or 3.8 in them. Either way, I did good. I just loved the style of writing. I had gotten good at it back in high school, and college further perfected it. I think my favorite exercise was writing my own obituary. Morbid, perhaps, but it was fun to imagine where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be before I die.

I took a year “off” before I pursued a job in journalism. I got offered two jobs, opting for the one closer to home. A weekly newspaper… perfect for getting my feet wet. I was writing, taking pictures, editing and even a little designing. I had my own column (award winning!) which was my favorite thing ever.

I was there for about a year and a half. I hate to say it, but I just got burnt out. Perhaps it was the pace of the small town, or perhaps I was just doing too many things to really settle into one as my niche. No matter what, I was ready to move on and take the next step. Whatever that may be.

I can’t remember if I’d already resigned my position, or if I was about to, when I was sent to cover a car accident. Just before Christmas, I pulled up to the scene and saw… well. It was bad. I could hear a child crying from the crumpled, twisted car. And what did I have to do?

I had to take pictures of the scene. I had to try to get information. I watched as a life fight helicopter landed nearby. I felt like a vulture. I called my soon-to-be-fiance-but-I-didn’t-know-that-then, practically having a meltdown. Christmas. A child. Family member hurt. Life flight. Taking pictures. I felt dirty. I felt sick to my stomach. I realized that moment, my “career” as a journalist either wasn’t meant to be, or I would at the very least have to find a different route.

Since that day, I’ve had one other job opportunity at a newspaper here in Middle Tennessee. If I recall, it was a very similar position to the one I had before. I think I was the front runner based on my qualifications, to be honest. Heck, I didn’t even apply… they called ME based on my resume that was posted out on a journalism jobs site.

But in the interview, it just didn’t feel right. At this point, I can’t even remember if I was actually offered the job, but I know I never went to work there. And the state of the journalism industry today, I sometimes think that was just as well. Chances are, I would have been let go within the year — last in, first out sort of thing — as newspapers struggle to stay afloat.

All this said… I do still love the essence of journalism. I’ve been ashamed of my industry at times, but I still love being in the know and decimating whatever information I may have or learn. If I let myself, I can become a news junkie with ease. Twitter has been a wonderful resource for me to get my “newsie fix.”

And my blog… Well, this blog has become what my column was back in the day. The approach I took in that column is the same approach I take to every blog post. I won an award for my column, and I hope some day, maybe, my blog will receive recognition as well. I don’t write for the recognition, though. I write for the deep love and passion I have for it. It’s a personal satisfaction and, I like to think, natural talent for it.

If I were offered a job in the journalism field today… I’d probably take it. I’m not actively going to pursue it, but if the right offer came to me, chances are I’d take it. Because it IS still in my blood.

However, the chances of that are pretty slim these days, so I get my “fix” via Twitter and my blog. And that works for me. I’m not settling… I am constantly striving to find another way to make it better. To improve on my skills and trade. Because at the end of the day, even though I don’t work at a newspaper or TV station, I never left Journalism.

Never have. Never will.