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August 29, 2012

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Having rich parents or relatives can be godsent for anyone, not just a person pursuing journalism.

Rich SWPLs also work in charities, museums and other non-profits that don't pay the rent. The only way to earn a liveable salary in these fields is to be a director or a higher up of some sort. By having money, one can pursue a career that is fun, low stress and doesn't really pay much.

This is all very well, but when I was eighteen I was a bloody good writer, I'd edited the school magazine, I'd won a scholarship in English.

Thank God I'd the sense to say, nah, I'll try science instead. There's much more meat to it, you know.

It is not just journalism that is getting harder to break into without wealthy parents. With the job market in the toilet, every semi-desirable industry is making unpaid internships critical to employment. Read some of the comments in this article, even nurses (Half Sigma recommended profession) are requiring internships now.

“Hospitals are jumping on board to the free-labor train with "Nursing Internships." They now prefer that you work anywhere from 4-12 weeks unpaid, then they'll consider you for employment.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/the-murky-ethics-and-crystal-clear-economics-of-the-unpaid-internship/256940/

As far as journalism goes, a handful of entry-level and intern positions are made available to middle class kids at good state schools like the University of North Carolina or Missouri. But to even be considered for an internship, you generally need to be at a top tier school. Look at the schools where these interns are coming from: Stanford, Harvard, Rice, NYU, Northwestern. If your parents can’t afford to pay $45,000 a year so you can attend a private school you should forget about journalism as a career.

http://www.collegebizjournalism.org/node/239

http://www.collegebizjournalism.org/node/174

It's an interesting article - thanks for the link. She's right, in more ways than she realizes, as you point out. She has pronounced liberal tendencies, of course, but that shouldn't be surprising since she's a journalist. And of course, being a good liberal, she feels guilty about all her "privilege" - being white, Canadian, able-bodied and an heiress. Oh, the injustice of it all!

Journalism, as a profession (and I regard it as a profession in the same way I view prostitution), is vastly oversubscribed by idealistic young people who think they can "make a difference." Most of them will never get jobs in this area, and those that do will be writing up obituaries, weddings, high school football games or birthdays at the zoo. And since the supply of would-be journalists vastly exceeds the demand, most of the jobs pay poorly, as Ms. Kimball discovered.

HS is right, a must read for anyone who's know unemployment induced poverty.

Also, you might as well give up on Journalism if you're not a liberal. There's only so many jobs over at Fox News.

I agree with Black Death. Back in the day (i.e. "The Front Page"/"His Girl Friday"), newspaperfolk were rightly regarded with a jaundiced eye, even by someone who actually had experience in the business (Ben Hecht, the author of "The Front Page"). I recall reading how callow J-school graduates were routinely given the police beat, so that they could unlearn what their college professors taught them and learn about human nature the way it really is. Nowadays, professional journalism is populated by self-righteous nitwits, who simply parrot what they've gotten from the wire.

If you think I exaggerate, consider this recent case. A study done in Denmark of the efficacy of exercise as a weight-loss strategy was uniformly misreported in the press. What the journalists trumpeted was that less exercise was more effective than more for weight loss, because people (men) who exercised only 30 minutes a day lost more weight over a given period than men who exercised 60 minutes a day. Ignored, but not buried, was the fact that both groups lost _nearly the same amount of body fat_, which implies, in turn, that the group that exercised 60 minutes _gained lean muscle mass_, which is, I would think, the whole point of working out. This article is typical: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/08/study-for-body-fat-30-minutes-of-exercise-as-good-as-60/261559/
Luckily, 99% of the commenters have spotted the fallacy. But still...

I always thought the top journalists didn't even bother with journalism school. They just major in English at some elite school, like Middlebury or Williams or Brown and write for a school magazine.

Then they get a job at Time or the NYT and they train them there. That's the way it used to work anyway. J-school was kinda prolish.

[HS: Yes, this is correct. In journalism, an elite degree trumps the actual academic study of journalism, as far as getting hired for a job goes.]

My bro-in-law paid off my sister's student loans (or more accurately rolled it into their mortgage). I guess some people have trouble with relationships (or don't want one), but still there are a lot of guys in their twenties/early thirties who would at minimum split the rent with a girl who looked like she does in her picture.

I do quite a bit of highway driving for my job, and recession or not, it is amusing to see "Drivers Wanted" placards on at least half of the semitrailers I see.

"Now although I have pointed this out before, as far as I know I am the only person in the entire world who has publicly written about this, until now. Why hasn’t it been written about before?"

I have to say, Sigma, you've had a glorious summer, and the sudden surge of omega male commenters on your blog since all these shooting took place is proof of it.

Over these past few months, the media has picked up on all the major Sigmian themes; gun-totting Omega male rage, the LAW school bubble, dystopian robotic economies, proles, etc.

And now they've picked up on your classic schtick that elite American journalism, especially at the NY Times, is a viable career only for the mediocre children of highly successful parents who can save their lib arts educated kids from a life of being a Starbucks barrista by making a few well placed phone calls to an elite newspaper.

Because of you Sigma, you've spread chaos, rage, social climbing, dead bodies, and disaster across the USA.

Kudos.

"Because of you Sigma, you've spread chaos, rage, social climbing, dead bodies, and disaster across the USA".

HS made the educated class more aware. Proles and NAMs are repugnant members of society. More so with Proles, simply because they are better off financially. Rich SWPLs serve no pragmatic use to society.

Does this apply to sports journalism as well?

Because I know a couple of guys (in the last 5 years) who have landed things at ESPN (paid), which they have now turned into full time well paying careers after being really great bloggers in their chosen sports. And neither of them played their respective sports in college, only went to state-schools, and did not major in english/journalism.

"Because of you Sigma, you've spread chaos, rage, social climbing, dead bodies, and disaster across the USA."

Now you are really going to inflate his ego.

She is not bad to look at either!

Fundamentally, isn't the problem that (1) the economy just doesn't need that many new educated professionals; and (2) as a nation, we were kind of spoiled by past periods where a reasonably intelligent person could go to college and have a pretty good chance of getting a suitable job as an educated professional?

Any way you slice it, there are far more bright, reasonably competent young men and girls who want to be reporters than there are actual reporter jobs. So those jobs will be allocated in some way. If not by who is willing to do unpaid internships, then it will be some other way. For example the best looking candidates will get the jobs. And then somebody will (correctly) blog about how it's unfair that plain-looking people are shut out.

It's unsurprising that in competition for limited spots, people from higher class backgrounds have a big advantage. But that's not really the fundamental problem which is that (1) there are far too few jobs for everyone who wants to be an educated professional; and (2) people have come to expect that they can go to college (and grad school) and land such a job.


"She is not bad to look at either!"

Agree, but it also needs to be pointed out that this would appear to be classic case of a girl who spends her most fertile years trying to achieve career goals. Probably she (and society) would have been much better off if she had married, had a few children, and satisfied her need to write like Laura Wood does.

My guess would be that sports journalism has more of a younger male audience, so it's easier to change a blog into a paying post with ESPN, etc.

I bet the odds are still 100 to 1 instead of 1000 to 1, etc.

On a wholly different note, I heard on the radio today is that the demand for auto technicians is so high (many existing techs are older and soon to retire) that the employment rate for graduates of training programs is basically 100%.

I think this article was a lot of junk, to be frank.

I work as a journalist, I have lots of writer friends. While obviously money helps, I do believe, naive as this sounds, that output and talent are really the key variables. And the key fact of this article, which she admits right at the beginning, is that she didn't really write very much. She was too tired.

I have friends that are full time bloggers, they live fairly comfortably on ad revenue from their sites and maybe the occasional freelance piece here and there. It's not impossible if you're constantly producing good, interesting content that people want to read. You have to be willing to write incessantly, beginning in your late teens, gradually building up an impressive body of work with some sort of unique flair to market yourself. Writing for the student paper, writing for your blog, writing for other people's blogs, just writing all the time. This is how you get noticed and hired in todays's Internet age.

Even now, this girl doesn't seem to have a website or blog, which makes absolutely no sense. You Google her name and get nothing. She's put no effort into establishing a web presence, I assume because she'd rather mope around feeling sorry for herself than produce free content for others to enjoy and notice, simply because it "seems strange" to do that, in her words.

Journalism school grads and grad students in general are considered a complete joke in today's journalism industry. Young kids think you become a good writer by having certain degrees or going to the right school. But they clearly don't have any genuine passion for the craft because they'll never spend any free time writing outside of assignments.

My younger sister won the lottery of sorts.

She is the only J-school graduate from her university's graduating class currently employed in print journalism.

Perhaps in this one instance, our lower middle class background helped her, but it took some luck.

Choice internships typically want experience, so unless you have connections to leapfrog that requirement, you must first intern at no pay at a publication at the very bottom of the ladder. For my sister, this meant working for free at the local paper that comes out for free on Thursdays in the suburb where we grew up after her freshman and sophomore years.

She then interned for one of our metropolitan area's two major papers after her junior year.

After her senior year, she landed an internship at a magazine with a circulation north of 500,000. All the other interns had rich parents. Ours had to strain to put my sister and I through college. She lived at home for months after graduating, working for free.

She's said that it is very rare an intern actually gets hired by her magazine. They're just a free source of labor and turn away fifty applications for every intern they take on.

What got my sister hired on after months of working for free were her middle class values. All the well-to-do kids out of J-school she interned with were looking for their opportunity to impress the magazine with the writing they'd done, the writing they could do and the ideas they had. My sister dove into all the grunt work (fact checking, etc.).

In a dying industry, the staff writers and editors working at the magazine didn't care about the interns' egos or career ambitions, they just wanted to pawn off entry level tedium on an underling and have it done promptly and correctly.

A few years later, my sister is now an associate editor, makes half as much as I do, and is considering switching careers into corporate PR or advertising. If she stays in her current job, it would be a decade or two before she'd move up another level on the editorial rung.

"On a wholly different note, I heard on the radio today is that the demand for auto technicians is so high (many existing techs are older and soon to retire) that the employment rate for graduates of training programs is basically 100%".

That's good, let's put some college graduates into that field. Human beings were made to evolve, so we should see an educated class take on prolish occupations and make them better. Proles are dumb and were never taught to think creatively or outside the box. Jack up the salary requirements, and you see a flood of college grads trying to get into the gig. No work is beneath anyone if it pays well. I assume SWPLs would respect that. It all comes down to marketing and perception. SWPLs just don't like the people behind the current lineup of blue collar work, who are the proles.

"Now you are really going to inflate his ego."

It's true though, I must tip my hat to our status obsessed host. He's owned this summer, mounted it from behind, and made it his whimpering bitch.

Bravura work, Sigma.

"It's unsurprising that in competition for limited spots, people from higher class backgrounds have a big advantage. But that's not really the fundamental problem which is that (1) there are far too few jobs for everyone who wants to be an educated professional; and (2) people have come to expect that they can go to college (and grad school) and land such a job".

Any college major that show job prospects are vocational in nature. STEM fields, business, and law are actually more vocational than academic, despite being taught in colleges and not in trade schools. When people say major something that is pragmatic (one that leads to a well paying job), these are the subjects that comes to mind. I would say business and law are poor fields to enter because of the current oversaturation of candidates who flooded the labor market at its height; when salaries were commensurating ridiculously a lot more than what the workers were really worth.

My bet is that college grads who are now unemployed, go find some vocational prolish occupation and make good use of it. When push comes to shove and when unemployment benefits runs out, no work is too beneath anyone unless it's dangerous.

"Now although I have pointed this out before, as far as I know I am the only person in the entire world who has publicly written about this, until now. Why hasn’t it been written about before?"

Half, I had actually thought I was the person who pointed this situation out to you, given that I myself was one of those comparatively lower class journalists for a while. I'm also sure I've written about it outside comments on your posts, although my own posts may be on a blog that was discontinued.

It doesn´t hurt to be Jewish, either.

[HS: WRONG. The people who control the NY Times don't give a crap if someone is Jewish. They care about eliteness and connections.]

Yeah, the WASP- Harvard mafia strikes again!

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