I think about the future of journalism a lot. In fact, I work with the future of journalism a lot. Some kids already have the fire in their bellies to be the next Woodward or Bernstein. Some kids already know they want to write celebrity gossip or news about the royal baby (mazel tov, Harry and Meghan)! Some kids already know they want to write features or do food writing or photojournalism. In all cases, the advice I give them is the same: Be accurate. Be thorough. Be respectful. Think about the reader. Check your facts, and then check them again.
But these days, I’m starting to wonder if the advice I give these kids should be: Run away. Run far, far away, and maybe join the circus or sell insurance or something.
In the wake of the shocking news of The Advocate buying The Times-Picayune, I sat down with my friend, Sarah Ravits, whom I met when we both worked at Renaissance. Now she is a freelancer, and I work in marketing, but we still have lots to say about journalism:
Everything there is to say, though, has already been more or less said. (That happens: Journalists write. It’s what we do.) We really don’t have any original or fully concrete takes on this, other than it’s devastating that an entire staff of hardworking people just lost their jobs and some of them are going to have to uproot their lives here or make the decision to switch industries. It’s also just sad for the city – New Orleans, of all places, needs all the journalism it can get! To oversimplify it: our officials need to be constantly supervised and held accountable; also we just have a lot of weird and interesting stories that people deserve to know about. We’re not trying to be corny New Orleans sensationalists, but we would venture to say that we have more potential stories to be told here, as compared to a lot of other places.
In order to live in this city – with its ever-increasing cost of living yet continuous dysfunction – you have to really love it deep down and be passionate about it. And that’s the same sentiment when it comes to journalism, too. So yeah, we just feel so sad for all the staffers who consider New Orleans to be home, whether they are born-and-raised veterans or transplants who’ve adapted to life and work here. Now they’re out of work and potentially their home, too.
In this article in Vice, headlined “We’re Drinking Now,” we learned that the stunned employees at The Times-Picayune all went across the street to get drunk while the news sunk in:
“Times-Picayune staffers were shocked, employees told VICE News, with some crying in the newsroom and others tweeting out the sad news. The staff went to a bar across the street to commiserate about the work the newspaper had produced amid intense financial pressure in recent years. ‘We’re drinking now,’ one former staffer said on Thursday night. ‘There’s not much else to do.’”
So (with apologies to Tim McNally) we’ve decided to come up with Five Cocktails to Sip Depressedly While Contemplating the Future of Modern Journalism.
Late Capitalism Is Bad
Five shots of Jameson consumed in rapid succession, paid for with a credit card. We actually stopped drinking Jameson because we’re in our 30s and can’t take shots now without puking, but back in the glory days of journalism/our 20s, we could put it down and still make it to work on time the next morning.
It’s more economical and it might even last for more than a day. Pairs well with tears, frustration and existential angst.
Stop the Presses
Do two shots of tequila while slamming your head into the bar and wishing you could go back in time and take a bunch of STEM classes in college.
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch – But There Is Free Booze
Whatever fun themed drinks they’re handing out a party you can get into for free as part of the press. Note: This is probably not strictly ethical.
We know not everyone drinks, so this is a virgin cocktail that is just a can of pamplemousse LaCroix in one hand and a mug of office-brewed coffee in the other. Coffee is obvious because it’s as essential as oxygen to anyone working on a story (and it has to be office-brewed because we can’t afford Starbucks!), but we fully endorse LaCroix and have bought into its marketing scheme of being trendy and making hydration “fun.” It’s also great for hangovers! Also, we don’t fully trust or understand writers and journalists who don’t have at least 30 empty cans of it floating around in the backs of their cars.
In conclusion, we’ll buy any reporters a drink (a real one, their choice!) or pay for a slice of pizza if we see them. Eve’s dad always says, “No matter how broke you are, tip the street musicians.” We’re amending that to apply to ourselves: “No matter how broke you are, always buy a fellow journalist a drink.”
To our friends at the T-P, our hearts are with you, and we’re thinking of you while we raise our glasses in solidarity. Bottoms-up, and here’s to brighter days ahead.
Eve sold out and works in marketing, but her conscience won’t let her market anything she doesn’t believe in, so she works for her former high school and is still broke all the time anyway. She’s not really a hugger, but she’ll text you inspiring things or get you drunk if you want.
Sarah Ravits is a former editor at Renaissance Publishing who now works as a freelance writer, reporter and [insert various millennial media gig here]. She is happy to show moral support to any laid-off reporter and offer advice on navigating the emotional mindf*ck that comes with freelancing, should you choose to go down that path. She wishes you all the best because you deserve it.