I have the great good fortune to have a career that is diverse, but in all ways encompasses writing. I worked hard to get here, and I enjoy most every moment. But it is that diversity that sometimes brings me to uncomfortable situations. For instance, I'm an adjunct professor at a local university where I teach magazine journalism and I take very seriously my role as mentor to the many students I've had over the years. Which is why yesterday, when I was asked about the recent lay offs and buy-out offers at the newspaper for which I've been freelancing for 13 years, I wanted to both reassure my students and prepare them for the harsh realities of the industry they hope to be a part of.
I'm saddened on many levels that editors I have worked with for years will no longer be at Newsday and I hope they have new and fruitful opportunities. But here's one reality that I was able to use to reassure my students, while also reminding myself that I'm vulnerable as well: The media is a technology-driven force in which only those who have both good writing skills and a facility with new forms of disseminating information will succeed. My students, ages 18 to 23, are comfortable with blogs, Web videos, podcasts and the like, so they have the advantage over older journalists who straddle the old ways while trying to adapt to the new.
Isn't the old advice about investing to diversify? I think the same holds true with writing careers. It's perhaps the only way that one can guarantee (as much as that is possible) that there will always be some work available. That, and forcing yourself to get comfortable with all the technology that's so easy for kids to negotiate.
And I was feeling so proud that I now know how to blog!