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Young Journalists’ Blog “First Draft” a Must Read for Students

October 2, 2009

The sky is falling.  Layoffs ever-loom.  J-jobs are hard to come by.  And there’s lots of doom and gloom.  But the allure of journalism endures.  All these themes and more are present and accounted for (I’m in a rhyming mood today, what can I say?) in the *fantastic* (recently rebooted) blog “First Draft” penned by young professional journalists for SPJ.

The blog offers current journalism students a glimpse into their not-so-distant futures, as rising journos battle with the career realities, new media craziness and fallacies, and bureaucratic technicalities of being a twenty-something (or thereabouts) newshound in 21st-century America.  Or as the blog dubs them: “Generation J.”

The headlines of some recent posts offer a clue about the content mix: “Can Hyperlocal Save ‘Old’ Media? Should It?“; “Doing the Unthinkable– Turning Down a Job Offer“; “Formulating a Back Up Plan for Your Job“; and “Young Journalists’ Role in the Future of Journalism.”

Here’s a snippet of a sample post penned with grace by a dear friend of mine, Renee Petrina, who until recently was a standout staffer at The Indianapolis Star.  The post is titled, “Surviving a Layoff- A Mental Game”:

I was on vacation, driving down I-20 in South Carolina with my mom and dad, when my cell phone rang. I recognized the work number and knew that it was over. . . . I am proud to say I did not cry. At least not in front of anyone in management. I started texting my coworkers to thank them and say it was an honor to work with them. Thinking about my nightside teammates and how much I’d miss them, emotions bubbled up. My parents got to hear me scream an expletive about Gannett before I bawled my eyes out in the car. . . .

Getting laid off by phone sucks, no lie. But being away from the office helped me in so many ways. Rather than sitting alone at home questioning my worth after the layoff, I was surrounded by family members who love me unconditionally. I got home-cooked meals and desserts. Mom and I went shopping for some interview clothes. . . . Not to imply that I didn’t work to find work. I stayed up to job hunt online while my family went to bed, and ran up my cell phone bill calling past bosses for advice.

Two weeks after the layoff, I went back to the office to get my things. I had more than a suitcase full of editing reference books, family photos and snacks in my desk. Lugging that is tough work, even harder in heels and a suit. But dammit, I wore heels and a suit. For me, dressing up gives me a boost. If I look good, I feel good. . . . I had reframed the issue: I did not leave the paper; the paper left me. I was valuable. I was awesome. It was their loss. A month later, I was moving into a windowed office with my name outside the door. I’m proud to be a member of Ball State’s journalism faculty. Layoffs are a mental game. I’m pretty sure I won.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 9, 2009 6:54 am

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the shout out! Keep reading!


    Aiesha D. Little
    Associate Editor
    Cincinnati Magazine

    Chair, 2009-2010
    Generation J Committee
    Society of Professional Journalists

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