Inside the Journalism Confessional

by Hilary Crowe

The seemingly unfortunate combination of NYU’s exorbitant tuition and my parent’s protracted lack of excessive wealth has been a blessing in disguise. Attending a small university in D.C. looking to better its reputation has afforded this budding journalist more opportunities than she can name. Never before have I had so much conviction that journalism is the only career path worth my efforts. Then again, this past week has been planting seeds of doubt in my mind. I still know I want to write, but what about?

As you may or may not have noticed, my past posts have not been about politics, current events or international news (for instance, please see: "Rolling Stone: Not Gathering Moss, So Now Gathering Mass" or "Film Review: American Hardcore"). I avoid newswriting at all costs and more recently my professor for communication writing has helped me realize that I am absolutely terrible at writing news leads. I will get better with practice, but I have a mental block against anything so cut and dried. The thought of covering insipid campus occurrences and conspicuous congressional scandals, quite honestly, makes me want to vomit a little in my mouth. Living in D.C., and the colossal convergence on the National Mall this past weekend to protest the war, have made me feel a twinge of shame for feeling so. In the same vein, the much alluded to dogma that real, good journalists care about these issues and must cover them to gain the respect of their peers and superiors makes me contemplate abandoning my print journalism major completely.

As a student journalist, I see none of my dreams and hopes for my career realized by professors of print journalism. All have written for newspapers and the Associated Press. I want to write for The Village Voice, or eventually Rolling Stone, Esquire, or Bust. Are those less respectable publications because of the material they do and do not cover? Is it so horrible for a journalist, a writer, to idolize Ian MacKaye and Cameron Crowe instead of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein? These are questions better explored now, before I am forced into the five-year graduation plan.

In writing this, I have also come to answer myself. I just bought The Evens’ Get Evens at my favorite record store (Crooked Beat – the best place for D.C. albums) in Adams Morgan (I rode the Metro to and from with protesters on their way home from the rally with their picket signs). It’s a great album – entirely political, but artfully so, as it does not simply cram another ideology down listeners’ throats. And Joe Lally’s There to Here is poetic in its sociopolitical questioning of the state of the human condition, and criticism of the state of the union (though his album is beautiful, nothing compares to his live set). This is how I want to imbibe my protest culture. I have always loved music, and even more so writing about music. What’s more, I do not think that I am predestined for failure, as a journalist or as a contributor to society, for wanting to spend the rest of my life interviewing old punks, new DJs, and ex-Fugazi members turned solo artists. There are countless publications (Spin), movies (Almost Famous), and books (High Fidelity) dedicated to the life-affirming and life–saving power of music and its creators. I only hope I will be able to rise to the challenge of honoring this tradition, and that my education in the birthplace of hardcore will equip me with an adequate arsenal of ability to do so.

Playlist to go with post: Youth Brigade, "Barbed Wire"; Circus Lupus, "The One"; Embrace, "Money"; Rites of Spring, "Drink Deep"; Fugazi, "Waiting Room"; Egg Hunt, "We All Fall Down"; Iggy Pop, "Lust for Life"; The Specials, "Rat Race"; Bob Dylan, "Maggie’s Farm"; Dead Kennedys, "Take This Job and Shove It"; Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"; Minor Threat, "I Don’t Wanna Hear It"; Roxy Music, "Mother of Pearl"; The Ramones, "It’s not my Place (in the 9 to 5 World)"; The Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime"; The Velvet Underground, "Beginning to See the Light"; Joe Lally, "There to Here"; The Evens, "Cut from the Cloth."

(Photo by sgarbe84 of Curitiba, Brazil from stock.xchng.)

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