Aspiring journalists need to understand they’re not in this business to get rich; only a fraction of our ilk will ever earn big bucks. So, you recognize early on the other payoffs. Like the thrill of the byline!
Yes, some of us are driven by altruism and idealism, to defend the little guy, or take down a bad guy, or to inform and educate an audience about serious social, political, economic or environmental issues. But there’s also nothing quite like seeing your name in print, atop your reportage.
Almost 20 years later, I still derive satisfaction from seeing my work published, appreciating the fact that so many others would love to be in the same position. This was one reason I pushed for a public showcase of HKBU student reporting. The result: Hong Kong Dispatches. (Though it was my energetic colleague, Robin Ewing, who ultimately did most of the heavy lifting with the site.)
We colleagues then had an interesting discussion about whether ALL the student work should be uploaded, or just the cream of the crop. I’m of two minds. On the one hand, you want the best work to reflect well on the university, even on your own teaching. And there’s something a bit too touchy-feely about, as you would with children, giving everyone a ribbon just for participating. “We’re all winners, Timmy!”
The greater good, though, is that I want each of my students to taste this thrill of the byline, in hopes that this ego-boost will propel them forward, into a career of serious journalism. My vote, then, was to publish ’em all.