Wake up call

Sometimes, we need something really big to shake us up from our numbness. We need something to pop our little, safe bubble. We need a big wake up call to remind us that the real world is still there.

I had a wake up call this week. The blow was this morning, at 11a.m. sharp.

I went to a meeting from the Communications Department at BYU. I was expecting a boring discussion on how the Daily Universe, the university's paper and my current employer, was going to write stories, stay conventional, bla bla bla.

However, once I got there, Prof. Susan Walton said the Daily Universe will now be a media first newspaper, with most of its content online and with a weekly publication--possibly a magazine or tabloid.

Now, I know that's the best and most logical step the newspaper can take right now. The students will have a better education and, let's face it, no one likes to read conventional newspapers anymore (which is really, REALLY sad).  I'm not going to say this news was unexpected, or that it was my wake up call. No, definitely not.

My wake up call was to find out the full-time staff will be laid off. My tutors, my co-workers, my dear friends. They will all be gone.

They will be jobless.

Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. It's almost impossible to think of the Daily Universe without those amazing people working with us, lazy students, day-by-day, explaining what is real journalism, helping us to understand concepts, teaching us about the passion and integrity that comes with this tough profession. The Daily Universe is a family, and they will not be part of it anymore.

They will be gone.

Unfortunately, this is happening everywhere. Amazing writers are losing their jobs at newspapers everyday. Companies are merging, other are losing revenue, most of them are cutting their budgets low. I know that. I've always known that. But when it happens to people around you, in the newspaper YOU work at, and you put a face on those who are becoming jobless... Man, it sure becomes real, and it does wake you up to the world around you.

And it's sad.

Many people ask me whether they should become a journalist. How does the profession work? What should they expect? Do I enjoy studying journalism? Usually I just tell them it is a profession that requires a lot of work, but that if you love writing, you're going in the right direction. But let's play real here. I'll now give you my real opinion.

First of all, journalism is for those who LOVE it. It is a low-paid profession that requires you to work for long hours. If you're the kind of person who likes to clock in at 8 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m., this is not for you, because news happen all the time--including in the middle of the night and on weekends--and you have to be there for them. Always. Also, the competition is extremely high, so you have to keep yourself up-to-date with the news and new writing trends. Plus, technical knowledge (HTML, InDesign, etc.) doesn't hurt anyone.

But I think the most important thing journalists must have is thick skin. You hear a lot of "no's" and tons of bribes. You have to know to live through though day without crying and breaking down, otherwise you're not going to make it. Integrity and ethic are also extremely important if you want to be a real journalist.

But I still think it's worth it.

It's tough, but it's the profession I've chosen.

Bring it on, baby. Bring it on.

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