Applying for the Job
PARK RIDGE Can I have Barbara Shulgasser's job? Because after reading her extremely lazy and careless review of "Dick" (Aug. 4), I'm not sure she wants it.
It's fine if Shulgasser didn't like the movie; we live in a free country, after all. But instead of giving us even one reason why it's worthy of only one star, Shulgasser spent the first half of the article championing herself and berating the rest of the country with childish generalizations (confidential to Barbara: You don't have to be a "40-year-old" to understand history. At least, I don't.), and wrapped up the piece with the same who-played-who rundown that appears in the centerpiece of every movie review. One wonders if Shulgasser actually saw the film, or just visited the official Web site.
I haven't quite graduated from college yet and I'm taking six classes in the fall, but please don't let that discourage you from giving me Barbara's next assignment. Because I'd rather lose a good night's sleep to a word processor every now and then than to see such terrible work in the Tribune again.
Ahem. In as official a tone as I can muster (OK, so I'm smirking ...): I'm applauding Mr. O'Keefe for a couple of reasons:
1. He's obviously a passionate newspaper reader.
2. He's got an opinion of his own, and he's not afraid to share it. There's something awfully refreshing about that. (Let's just hope Ms. Shulgasser isn't the hiring editor when Billy comes to the Trib looking for work. As much as I love him, he can't be a campus correspondent forever!! :>)
Why am I sharing all of this?
Billys letter reminds me of some much larger issues I should address before you head into the big, bad world of full-time work.
I encourage each and every one of you to read the news! Don't just talk about covering it. Read the news, and pay attention to how it is gathered and presented. Be engaged. Write letters to the editor and columns for the op-ed pages. Join professional organizations, such as the Society of Professional Journalists. Advance causes supporting journalism and its integrity. You don't have to accept poor reporting, poor newsroom policy, poor management, poor behavior or just about any other poor thing you can think of from your colleagues and supervisors.
Make change, positive change, everywhere you work. It doesn't have to be anything earth shattering, but do something. I've heard of reporters forming writing groups and adult literacy programs and organizing fundraisers to benefit journalism. You can, too.
But while youre out there trying to help journalism, always choose your battles carefully. Be gracious and warm. Be professional and direct. Be firm but kind when doing your job or letting others in the newsroom know what you think. Plenty of insanely talented jerks never get anywhere despite their insane talent. Why? Because they're jerks!
Journalists particularly young ones often have a tough time knowing when to speak up, to push for change in their newsroom, in the industry. They're nervous and constantly scratching to get their first big promotion. So, they often say what folks want to hear rather than what actually needs to be said.
Don't lose sight of what's important: the improvement and protection of journalism. Let that be your overarching mission, and youll earn plenty of respect.