As I sat in the crowded pool area next to the camera with the monstrous lens, I thought about all the things I’ve learned throughout this semester. One thing kept flashing through my mind like an obnoxious neon sign – Ask questions! “What are you taking photos for?” I asked. “I was just walking by and decided to come in and take a few photos… you know young girls in bathing suits,” the Buffalo News photographer said. He was obviously joking. The girls in the bathing suits were prospective high school sectional champion swimmers.
During the subsequent twenty or so minutes, I chatted with the photographer. Eventually, I told him about being in the Journalism Certificate program at UB. I mentioned Derek Gee coming to speak to the class and he halfheartedly smiled and gave me an “Oh, that’s nice” response. What came next was the clincher.
“I can’t believe that big schools like that are still bothering to teach journalism,” he said, “’cause its just so unbelievably hard to get into.” He laughed. I didn’t.
When he left, he said it was nice to meet me although we never actually exchanged names. I stood there baffled by how this man could, in one statement, stomp on my future.
I’m sure that wasn’t his intent and he hadn’t planned on mentoring a prospective journalist when he left for work that morning. But it still reinforced what I noticed while touring the Buffalo News earlier in the semester – current journalists aren’t exactly going out of their way to motivate their successors, aside from when they are asked to speak to classes and expected to give a few inspiring words.
It could be the catty nature of journalism as it is such a competitive profession. They may be trying to protect their coveted positions from the people who could potentially take their jobs, which is understandable.
But, I’m still disappointed. Is wanting to have someone in the news business say “it is perfectly reasonable to go into the journalism field” too much to ask? Do I actually have a chance of getting a job? Or, is it just a lost cause?