I recently took the train to Ottawa for a job interview at a partisan political organization. Over sushi and seaweed salad, my interviewer asked whether I was afraid, if I took the job, I’d be shunned by the mainstream media gods. I said I wasn’t; I lied. But everything I said next was true.
I told him that journalism is changing, that first-person narratives, argumentative essays and cheeky personal blogs were all the rage in our battered journalistic landscape. I said that the best bloggers—the Josh Marshalls and Michael Geists and Andrew Sullivans—are serious intellectuals whose reporting is grounded in sound research and reasoning. Yet, they all have strong voices, and crystal clear points of view. I told him that, in any case, I didn’t go to J-School because it was my lifelong dream to be a newspaper reporter. I wasn’t even particularly keen on current affairs until university.
Rather, I pursued a master’s in journalism because I was interested in everything— from music, literature and pop culture, to politics, religion and technology– and figured a life in reporting would allow me to dip in and out of various disciplines and worlds. I chose journalism because it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor, what Churchill and Herzl and Orwell did before moving on to grander things. Besides, a year and a half of school would allow me to hone my writing and chops and put off getting a job for another 18 months.
I told him all this, and I meant it. But why, despite all that, did I still feel as though I had betrayed some fundamental instinct or ethic that I never had in the first place?