At the beginning of this year, I had a long and stifling moment of doubt over my career choice. It occasionally comes back in nauseating waves. I trip over the ideas of what I will expect from myself as a journalist. This does not complement the worry I have when, every time I have to fill up my car, I bid farewell to more cash notes than before.
Realistically, I am not confident in the world of journalism anymore. I wonder about whether these internships will pay off. I think about how being a journalist will sustain me. I do not know where to start; I do not know how I will become successful. Truly, I loathe the idea of doing menial jobs for the rest of my life, and asking my parents to bail me out would be a real-life nightmare.
T.O. Molefe studied chartered accounting and could have had a cheerful bank account at the end every month. It was not worth it for him. He pursued the way he felt deeply fulfilled by writing instead and has become a valuable dent in South Africa’s journalism world, having written for City Press, Daily Maverick, News24 and even The New York Times. He has lived out the cliché advice of doing what you love.
Life is not easy-breezy just because he is following his passion, though. He sat down with my Journalism class to talk about the hustle that goes into being a successful writer and journalist. “The industry is unkind”, he said. He elaborated on the modern pressure of chasing post views, of the appetite South African readers have for non-fiction and how the decline of journalism as business has resulted in a careless channel between the editorial decisions and the readers. I had been wondering about these issues since last July, when I left my last internship.
I will forget what a journalist said to me during my first internship: “Everyone can write. But not everyone can write well. People don’t realise this, but writing is an art.” I appreciated Molefe’s urge that we do not accept opportunities that are less than our work, though I am far too desperate to be heard to know that I will absolutely implement this advice into my life.
Internships are an important way to learn, and yet I know you cannot buy lunch with lessons learnt. They are a start; one day I want an intern to be allocated to me. Molefe told us that we should make sure that we are financially compensated for the time and resources that go into molding a piece. He likened accepting for offers for being rewarded with a byline to a doctor donating his medical knowledge for the sake of cultivating a reputation.
T.O. Molefe spoke about the economical and pragmatic side of journalism that no-one talks about. When I tell people I am studying to be a journalist, they are impressed, as if I am striding down an inspirational path. I get overwrought with the future of using this path to pay my bills, but, of course, I do not tell people that. Molefe spoke blatantly about how arduous the industry was. More importantly, he showed that it can be done as curiosity as the most vital tool. So, my faith in my career choice is restored – for now.
[Featured image credit: youtube.com]