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YM Blog-a-Thon: Being a broke-ass journalist

By Donna Tamcolumns
Apr 24, 2008 - 10:18 AM

If the iced-out logo didn't give it away, this is a post for the third Youth Media Blog-a-Thon hosted by Youth Outlook and Wiretap. This month's topic is money. Oh Dang! managing editor Donna Tam talks about the post-grad blues...

When I started to go to school to study journalism, I told myself that I wasn't going to make any money doing this profession. I said I was fine with not making much money, working random hours and moving to some remote part of the country to get experience. I accepted that I would never be rich.

"I don't care about money very much anyways," I told myself. "I'm not like that."

Then I graduated. I realized what the "real world" paid and I started to have doubts. I started wondering how I was going to pay all my bills with a job that paid less than the one I had in school. My college degree could do nothing for me--journalism jobs across the board were low-paying or being cut altogether.

After an extended internship in Spokane, Washington (which sadly, paid more than my current job now), I was offered my current job with a daily newspaper in Eureka, California. Now, California is just an expensive place to live. It gets cheaper when you leave the Bay Area, but cost of living doesn't always equate with income in this state. AND, the gas here is always higher than the Bay's.

I couldn't decide. Disappoint my parents, who watched me work my ass off for six years to finally graduate with a degree (not to mention that whole "we came to America and worked crappy jobs to give you a better life" feelings I get when I look at them) , or give up on a goal I've been working toward since high school?

Despite what the public may think about mainstream journalism, I believe that it plays an important role in our society, especially the smaller papers that focus on hyper local news. I know it has some set backs and constraints, but I felt like I needed to experience it for myself before I could pass judgment.

So, I took the job. I've been here for almost five months. I am super broke. There are days when I get really upset at myself for not having handled my money better. I am really just living off my credit card. When I do get paid, I stretch them measly dollars among my rent, car and credit card bills. I do the whole cup-a-noodles thing. My company is also experiencing budget cuts, so while I am lucky to not see any layoffs, the cuts also means no raises for a few months.

But, I think I can safely say it's probably the best job I've ever had in my life. During one day at work I can feel challenged, humbled and empowered all at once. So, I'll keep adding to my debt a little while longer and wait for the budget cut restraints to loosen up (if that ever happens). We'll see what happens. For now, I'll just keep on keepin' on.


Donna Tam is the managing editor of Oh Dang! She most likely makes less money than you.

Comments (8)

brenda says:
April 27, 2008 3:31 PM
"Don't let the gobblers get you down!".....?

Marin says:
April 28, 2008 12:01 PM
Well Donna, don't worry about it. I have this great investment opportunity, it's called the lottery. One dollar in, and $300 mil out. Keep banging away on, and develop more web skills, and you can go from broke to kinda broke.

James Woodard says:
May 4, 2008 8:51 AM
I feel ya. I got a raise though. About $12 a week, which is awesome, since my health insurance is kind of expensive. We don't even have very many readers. I'm just glad the checks don't bounce. Thanks George Bush for that extra check, now I can pay my late ass student loan bill.

Aaron Morrison says:
May 4, 2008 9:29 PM
Now, Donna. Why'd you have to go depress me with that? Just kidding. On a serious tip, you know you're about to be editor somewhere. Just wait and see.

Jessica Jones says:
May 5, 2008 7:53 AM
LOL I feel your pain girl. Just keep up the hard work

Scarecrow says:
May 5, 2008 9:14 PM
"...probably the best job I've ever had in my life." Somethings are worth more than money. Honestly, I'm glad you're doing what you've wanted as long as I've known you. But then again, if I only had a brain...

Kimberly Turner says:
May 9, 2008 7:41 AM
Donna, don’t get down on your self. At least ur doing what u love. I'm working a boring receptionist gig and kicking myself for not aggressively pursuing journalism. However it does provide me a lot of downtime to write for Oh Dang! So I guess it evens out. LOL!

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