I hate to participate in whatever's left of the Web 2.0 echo chamber, but I couldn't hold myself back from commenting on the Huffington Post's most recent Julia Allison interview
I basically got all John Edwards
in there, stopping just short of telling personal tales of helping my dad shop for steel-tipped work boots while growing up in Appalachia
. (No, seriously, I could have done that. Red Wing Shoes
in Monaca, PA, holler back!)
Normally it doesn't bother me when journalism is a bit elitist, because I understand the need for glamor and escapism
. But sometimes it's just distressing how painfully out of touch some publications are from reality.
In the HuffPo interview, Julia dismisses jobs with the potential to pay "$50,000 a year" without directly mentioning how much she makes doing things differently. Well, it was reported
earlier this month that her NonSociety venture pulled in net revenue of $60,000 last year. For those of you counting at home, that's $20,000 a year for each of her website's three editorial contributors, before paying for the site's programmers, hosting, servers, et cetera.
The elephant in the room, of course, is how she and her co-'Lifecasters' are really paying for their lifestyles. I know there is a tiny, lovely, lucky group of people who, often because of a blend of familial support and a lack of student debt, don't have to pursue 9-5 jobs in their 20's. I think that's fantastic, really, and I can't knock them for it-- who knows, maybe someday my future children will be fortunate enough to be included among them. But I think it's strange for someone in such a rare and privileged position to publicly put down a certain occupation, or the kind of salary it can bring in.
What is even crazier to me is that reporters at publications like HuffPo are apparently also so out of touch that they don't call her out on it-- instead, they run stories about how Julia Allison is pioneering a new "business model" and a revolutionary form of "personal branding" or something. Um, what?
My alloted 250 words of real talk below (my comment is still pending, so I'm posting it here in case it doesn't make it past the HuffPo interns):
me preface this by saying: 1. Julia is an acquaintance of mine. I wish
her the best, because I like her. 2. I am a salaried journalist, and I
only wish the best to our industry.
"But I've been so irked by one thing Julia said in this interview [regarding a young adult's possibilities for compensation in journalism]: 'You can make what? $50,000 a year?'
"The cavalier way this was said and reported makes me both sad and
angry. I'm sad for the insane class discrepancies in our country, and
angry that her comment was published without any qualification by what
is supposed to be an exceptionally conscientious publication.
"Am I the only HuffPo reader who grew up in a town where a family
bringing in anywhere close to $100 grand a year is one of the extremely
lucky ones? I'm 25, so inflation isn't completely to blame for my
perception. I mean, the 2007 census listed the US median *household*
income (implying 2 earners) was $48,000.
"What young adult would ever publicly scoff at the chance to earn $50,000 a year,
especially in a profession that does not require working swing shifts
and wearing steel tipped shoes? Lots of people proudly work much harder
than me and Julia to bring in money like that, and we *need* them.
'Lifecasting' does not an economy make.
"Are we in the media really all such spoiled brats? If so, I suppose
that may help explain what ails journalism, and why many Americans no
longer pay to read what we're writing."