I've always been great at expressing myself with words on paper. As early as the third grade, I would write "horror" stories or adventure novels and read them to the class. Even back then I knew I had a gift. Naturally, I knew that journalism would be my career choice. Immedieatly after college I started a career freelancing for different newspapers, magazines, and a few online news outlets.
It was fun. It was exciting. And I never knew what I'd be reporting on next. I gained a reputation for being a fun and trustworthy reporter. Many local people would only trust me to cover them for a story; indeed there were a lot of people and organizations I wrote about numerous times. They loved a good A.J. Dugger story. Famous people took note as well. I'll never forget Joe Thesimann's manager calling a paper I once wrote for requesting that "A.J. Dugger meet us in downtown Nashville so Mr. Theismann can talk to him." I had a similar experience years later when I interviewed former Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes. After the success of our interview and accompanying article, he asked me to help with contributions and editing to his upcoming book. The late Denise Matthews, (formely known as the singer Vanity) enjoyed my work with her as well. After becoming an Evangelist she generally avoided the press, but liked my work and trusted me, giving me the opportunity to share her message through my journalism. We also became friends. She called me often. However, the experience became bittersweet because she died the following year, so I was the last reporter to interview her. Although sad, it makes that interview even more special.
But around the time I graduated from college in 2009, the economy was in the crapper. Deep in the crapper. In fact, at the newspaper where I interned the previous year, I was there to witness 35 jobs get cut. However, as I expanded my resume, I found work relatively easily.
But that's when the journalism took a big hit. These days anyone can be a journalist. All you have to do is "go live" on Facebook, or become a blogger on a news site. But there's no real money in doing that. What happened to the days when you could get a real journalism job where you had salary wages and benefits? What happened to the jobs when you spent your day alternating between typing and making phone calls at your desk and running out to cover stories? That's become a thing of the past.
It's frustrating when you get hired by every place you apply for, but all they can offer is freelance opportunities and all they pay is maybe $35 or $50 per article you write. That can't pay the bills. The way journalism is today, it has to be a side job. That's been my experience for the past two years. I can write all I want for chump change, but doing all that research, writing and interviewing isn't worth it for $35. Newspaper sales and advertising are at an all-time low. Newspapers and magazines are not making half the money they once did, so all they can afford to do is offer writers freelance opportunities for chump change.
The bright side, however, is that you can become famous easier using social media as a journalist. If you want the fame, go for it. It's easy to promote yourself these days. But the money is terrible. I don't personally care about the fame, although I wouldn't shove it away if it came. But I want to make money doing what I enjoy.
I published my first book a few years ago and hopefully my next one will be out next year. I'm trying to inch my way back into writing. It's just kind of discouraging knowing that there's no real money to make in doing it anymore.
I want to write full-time again. Currently I'm a teacher's assistant working with at-risk children. But that's not where my heart is. I'd rather go back to doing what I love. I've been a scribe for a good while now, but I realize that there are more experienced people in that field than me. If anyone has any suggestions on ways to get full-time work again, give me a holler.