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On journalism

Published on 14th November 2019

When people ask me why I decided to be a journalist, my answer is always the same.

"Almost Famous."

When my 14-year-old self finished watching the film—loosely based on director Cameron Crowe's experience as a music journalist in his younger years—I thought, "I want to be William Miller." To be honest, I'm not even sure it took me until the end of the movie to decide that. As soon as he describe Russell's guitar work as "incendiary," I was hooked.

I've written about my love of "Almost Famous" before, but it's been several years since I've watched the movie. After eight years in (and out) of journalism, two layoffs (one journalism-related, one not) and countless late freelance checks, the story in "Almost Famous" felt a little less relatable to my current life in the 2010s.

I thought about the movie today though, when I saw this article on Twitter: Five cliffhangers as the Gannett-GateHouse merger vote nears. I work for Dispatch Magazines, which is part of Dispatch Media Group. Like many regional publications, we are owned by a large corporation. In this case, that's GateHouse. 

I'm not here to make grand assumptions about what may or may not happen in the coming days and weeks. None of us in the newsroom have the answers yet, but nor are any of us new to this game—the game being the increasingly shaky future of local journalism. (Not sure if you've heard, but journalism is not what it used to be.) It's not Williams'—or should I say, Cameron's—1973. 

But that's OK.

As my editor said on Twitter, "For some reason I still love this hell industry." 

Journalism has always been in a constant state of evolution, long before we even knew what "www" stood for. And it will keep changing. To change, it has to keep going. And even though you can't scroll through journalism Twitter without passing an article about the failing state of the industry, I don't think we'll ever exist in a world without journalism. Yes, things are hard. Really fucking hard. The industry is changing rapidly (not always for the better) and there are layoffs and it's scary and frustrating and don't even get me started on the damn Russians and fake news. But there are so many people writing great stories—through all of it. My job at Dispatch Magazines—I celebrated one year in October—reminded me of that. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I work with some extremely talented and inspiring people. 

If you're wondering what Dispatch Magazines and The Columbus Dispatch cover, here are some of my favorite pieces from the year so far: 

I get to tell stories for a living. I might not be living William's dream, but it's still pretty great.



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