Ending up where I least expected

Published 11:00 am Monday, October 5, 2015

I never knew I wanted to work in newspapers.

I never knew what I wanted to do for a career. When I was younger, I never thought about those kinds of things because they just didn’t seem urgent.

When I went to college, I hoped I’d fall into something, but junior year came and I was forced to pick a major because I still had no idea. I chose to major in history because I was always fond of the subject, and at a small liberal arts school, there wasn’t an abundance of major options. Plus I knew anything math or sciences related would be out.

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Since history is a major and not necessarily a career, I chose to take education classes and get a teaching certificate because I like kids, and besides becoming a writer or a museum curator, it’s really one of the only careers for a history major. It seemed right.

I don’t regret those decisions, but it became apparent early on that I wasn’t authoritative or outgoing enough to keep students interested in learning.

While I was trying to sort out what would become of me during my senior year of college, it occurred to me that I spent my free time reading articles, keeping up to date on pop culture and sports scores. On a whim I decided journalism may be the career for me and started thinking about a second degree.

It took a few years, but I made it back to college for that journalism degree. Once I started taking classes, I realized journalism was a different occupation than I thought it was, never considering how social the job is, but I was very committed to my interest in information gathering.

I began to work with Alabama’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, to really get to know what it was like in a job-like environment. I didn’t know what type of media I wanted to work in initially, but I was open to any new experience. I began an internship at The Tuscaloosa News and suddenly became at home with newspapers.

As stressful as this job is, I do feel like it is where I belong. I like not necessarily working the typical 9 to 5. I like having a desk but not having to sit at it all day. In a way, I never had to pick an occupation because I get to live through the people I meet and learn about the work they do everyday.

My parents always told me I was a good writer, but I never believed them or particularly enjoyed writing as a kid. Growing up, I’ve always been the quiet one who keeps to herself and never speaks up. It’s funny how you sometimes end up doing the last thing you think you’d do.

I do worry about the state of the newspaper industry with so many having to close because people want to solely access the news for free online. My parents have subscribed to our local newspaper for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine not having one every day.

Because of cut backs, newsrooms are shrinking at an enormous rate. Reporters have to do multiple jobs outside of reporting, and it can run people weary. The younger generation are running to work in public relations and marketing, and soon I’m not sure if there will be anyone around to voluntarily take on the stress of the constant news cycle of a newspaper with longer hours and less pay.

I hope this week shines a light on all the effort and hours a small staff puts in to making these pages that people eventually just throw away. I know a lot of people like to point out every little flaw we make — and rightly so, we should never make mistakes— but realize some days three people, with the senior most employee having been here for 10 months, layout and edit the entire paper.

It’s not an easy job for people who have commitments outside of work, but it’s a necessary job if we want the public to remain informed.