Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why I Went to J-School

I've spent more than half my life wanting to become a journalist. I think anyone who knows me well can attest that it has been my passion to aspire to be a top-notch writer or reporter or producer or director. As a kid, I would sit in front of the bathroom mirror pretending I was a news reporter on the scene of some breaking news story. When I got older in high school, I would sit on the sidelines of the basketball games with a little tape recorder and do play-by-plays.

Then, I went off to college. I spent four years of my life working at the Journal Sentinel. I took some time to intern at 'KTI and 'TMJ radio in their promotions departments. Then, I went off to Boston. In search of that Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism. Now, I'm three years out of having my BA from UWM and I still really don't have the "Dream Job" that I would have hoped for. I'm still a semester away from having my Master's. But it would seem that something is holding me back...

I went to journalism school for a reason. But why? I guess deep down I really feel that talented people (and I'll throw some shout-outs here in a minute...) that I have come in contact with after my seven years in two different journalism schools...I think those people really can make a difference if they don't get stuck amid all the crap and muck that's out there.

I know it's hard to make a difference when ratings are always on your back, news directors are hounding you, and what-not. But, I feel that the business can change. There needs to be a dramatic shift in the dynamic. I felt this for awhile and news is going somewhere that it shouldn't, and I don't feel as if I'm the only one who gets this feeling. Case in point: Why else would my extremely talented boyfriend be working as a bank teller instead of sending out tapes? And I'm not just saying that he's talented because he's my boyfriend.

I guess what it all comes down to is passion. Why did the reporters, anchors, writers, photographers, editors, news directors, et. al get into the business to begin with? Why are they still here? Have they lost that passion that brought them into the journalism field? Sometimes I feel that people stay too long in one field and that's why they get bored. They stop loving what they do. They pretend that they love it and fool themselves, but all the while they don't give 100% of themselves.

When I heard yesterday that Mike Gousha was leaving TMJ4 after 25 years there I was shocked. (To read more on his announcement: ) Mike Gousha is a legend in Milwaukee. He's the face of WTMJ. I have spent the past 25 years of my life watching that station because of him. I respect him as a journalist and growing up tried to emulate his success.

His departure of WTMJ is monumental. While they are still keeping Carole Meekins in the other chair and adding Mike Jacobs (another longtime Milwaukee veteran and well-respected journalist), there will be such a dynamic change at the station. I can't help but think what a loss it is.

I can't begin to imagine what his thought-process is or why he's making this life altering decision. Maybe he's lost the passion? Maybe he needs new challenges? Maybe he wants more of a family life? Who knows...

The recent changes at WTMJ have been sudden -- gone are Kevin Hunt, Kimberly Kane, Scott Friedman, Jim many talented newsmakers that I grew up with. Just talking with people around town, they're not happy with the changes. The more flashy "Breaking News Now" and "Extreme Slam Jam Alerts" haven't taken off as successfully as I think was perceived.

I just hope that the scene changes, soon and for the better. There are so many talented journalists out there that I have come into contact with -- many who I hope share the same passion for news as I once did and who went to J School for the same reason I did -- to make a difference.

So to Katie, Amber, Amy, Imaeyen, Angela, Rachel, Brett, Melissa, Anthony, Jake, Evan, Alicia, Todd, Tony, Stephanie, Iris, Chuck, George, Will, Jessy, Lindsay, Dave, Dan, Nathan, Mary, Rose, Ryan, Doug, and everyone else with a passion for change in j-schools like UWM, Marquette and Emerson...I hope you guys keep on with your dream to make an impact.

And the reason why I'm still working on this degree, even though it seems that I have lost my passion... I want to go into teaching. I found my passion lies now in teaching young people with dreams of being in journalism about theory and methods. Without good teachers, the future of journalism has nothing to look forward to.

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