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The Fall of Journalism

The year was 2002. I was an exuberant teenager ready to attack any opportunity that came my way as a writer. Back then, I considered myself solely an entertainment journalist.  I dreamed of writing for Rolling Stone or working for MTV. Those were the outlets I turned to when I wanted my music news. 

Never in a million years had I planned to start my own magazine!  StarShine Magazine was my webzine back when blogs and online magazines were considered “new media” or simply shuffled in with “fan sites”. They were not taken seriously. 

I had to fight for every interview I got. I was a young, bubbly female that everyone wanted to patronize and push aside. But I kept going. I kept pushing. And I let my writing speak for itself. I had a knack for writing articles. For talking to people. For making them feel comfortable in interviews. 

Soon, I was the one being invited to interviews, release parties, and concerts. In a predominantly older male-driven profession, I had made it. I gained integrity and respect as a journalist and I was incredibly proud of that as a twenty-year-old. I was getting millions of eyes on my website before social media was a thing!

The big problem was… how the heck was I supposed to make money? I put so much energy into writing, interviewing, listening to music, going to events and designing websites that I didn’t have the energy or know-how to monetize the site. 

And once I started to think about it, it took the fun out. So began the fall of StarShine. That and a big site crash that my server had.  Good website hosting was hard to come by back then!

I lost plenty of readers in that down time. I started to pursue other ventures… novel writing, being a publicist, and writing for other websites and magazines. 

The dream to work for MTV completely died. MTV had, in my opinion, turned to crap. As for Rolling Stone, I didn’t think my style would vibe with them and wasn’t so sure their reputation was going to hold up anyhow. 

Truth is, I liked running my own magazine. I liked being the positive, no gossip website people came to discover new music.  It was hard writing for other publications — letting them decide what I should listen to and write about. It felt forced, it felt phony. 

I found a few magazines that I did enjoy writing for. But if they were print magazines, one by one, they folded. If it was a website, they paid very little or nothing at all. On top of that, they either wanted me to trash celebrities or write about ones whose music I hated and would never listen to in real life. 

So I kept to my own site for the most part, but find things are too strange for me these days to be a “journalist”. 

Anyone can call themselves that as well as a “blogger”. In today’s world, it’s harder and easier to get your article noticed. 

Harder because everyone is flooded with daily content. Easier because you never know what might go viral! 

To be a journalist today, you have to be super present on social media. Not just keeping up posts on your accounts, but following the top influencers on all platforms as well as celebrities. 

You basically have to create a story from a series of tweets and Instagram photos like stalkarazzi. Either that or you can turn to mommy or political blogging. 

None of those sound appealing to me as a writer. Aside from not being an actual mother, I am not the journalist that trendy outlets want. And the ones that my style does fit in with are places I don’t really want to work for. 

Truth is in my experience, journalism eats up your life, wants you to compromise who you are and prefers you do it all for free or for pennies. 

I miss the old days. When people read full articles and journalists formed bonds with publicists and a story didn’t become old after half a day. Journalism was a craft. It wasn’t something meant for everyone to do. 

I know some photographers who feel slighted by Instagrammers always going viral. But I wonder if there are any journalists out there who feel burned by social media and their “snackable” content that is nixing the relevance of long-form articles…

Who’s with me?

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