7:09 PM CDT, October 9, 2012
Today I'm going to highly recommend you head over to The Rumpus and read my interview with a young writer named Alexandra Kimball. From the intro:
You probably have not heard of Alexandra Kimball. She’s a young Canadian writer who has spent the last decade trying to break into a career in journalism. Working from Toronto, Kimball found herself floundering in her efforts to publish, went back to the refuge of grad school to get an “accidental” Ph.D., and only truly felt like she had the time and financial cushion to make it when she inherited a small sum of money unexpectedly from a relative.
Her observation may sound familiar to hordes of young writers, graduated and struggling into a new Internet-based world in a troubled economy: that what it takes to make it as a journalist is not pluck, moxy, verve, or any of those other underutilized descriptors, but rather a financial base, either from savings or one’s parents. The economic ability to take one or more unpaid internships early in a career may be far more important than talent, insight, or work ethic.
This led her to write the piece “How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can’t Afford an Internship” for the journal Hazlitt. It subsequently got picked up by The Guardian and went viral among journos, fresh grads, and the ever-prickly libertarian crowd.
It’s as provocative a piece as has been written about the state of professional journalism in recent memory, and its implications should trouble us: a profession that truly needs full representation, and that is much-ballyhooed as a supposed meritocracy, may actually restrict itself to a certain class who can afford to work for free after college.
Honestly, I would count our conversation as one of the best I've had on the state of professional writing and journalism in a long time. If you're a young writer, I especially recommend this. Read her piece first, and then head over to The Rumpus.
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