Emily Nussbaum and the Journalistic Apocalypse

I recently tweeted at Emily Nussbaum, the television critic for the New Yorker, for advice regarding aspiring journalists. I was hoping to hear her unique perspective as a successful writer in the field, especially since I am the television critic at my college newspaper, The Daily Cardinal. I was not expecting a reply but thought I would take a chance. Not only did I received an unexpected reply, but also carried out a brief Twitter dialogue with her. Here is what I learned:

Emily Nussbaum’s perspective is more pessimistic than I would have expected. Initially, she accused me of spamming her account. Once she realized I was legitimate in my conquest for information, she sent me a link to an interview she had last year with a journalist. In the journalism world, you often here two sides. There is the side that defends journalism, believing that it is not dying due to technology and competition, only changing with the times. In contrast, there is the side that states journalism is doomed and everyone attempting to get a degree in the field is wasting their time and energy. In the interview, Nussbaum seemed to lean towards the latter side.

The interview piece is entitled “Why Can’t I Be You: Emily Nussbaum – The New Yorker’s TV critic tells us how to get her job—or not.” Nussbaum speaks to the young journalist (from Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Magazine) about how she was in the right place at the right time for her dream job to come about. This is often a common theme of many achievement stories, serving as a reminder that there are many factors involved in success. Yet, she goes on to say that the journalistic economy is “collapsing,” and that young journalists should expect the worst when it comes to the many closed doors in the journalism field. This is a perfectly reasonable side to take, yet I found it somewhat disappointing to hear that from someone with my dream job, especially after the not-so-welcoming opening interaction.

I could have left the interaction feeling cold-shouldered and uninspired, yet as I reflected on it further, I viewed it as a reality check. It is easy to encourage people with a passion for writing who want to have their voices heard. However, it is harder to be candid and real. Nussbaum’s cautionary commentary serves as a reminder that nothing comes easy, especially in the constantly evolving world of journalism.

Despite the hardships Nussbaum warns, I still believe it is important to pursue your dreams even though there may be barriers. I do not expect to waltz into my first interview at the New Yorker with a handful of writing samples in one hand, a resume in the other, and land my dream job. However, I will continue my passions, work hard, and conquer obstacles. This, perhaps, will eventually result in a career I enjoy and am proud of. Emily Nussbaum may be advising to prepare for the journalistic apocalypse, however, I am adamant there is still hope for young journalists despite change in our climate.

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