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I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Slacker, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    Yesterday afternoon, my gf and I went to lunch with some friends and a couple we did not know. At one point, my gf said of me to these strangers, "He works for the Town of XX," and it was odd how it brought me up short.

    I used to think of myself as a writer for big-name publications; later, as a comms person for a large multinational, a name that had cache. Now I'm a municipal worker for the Town of XX. The couple didn't even ask me what I did, and I imagine they think I work for the DPW or some other job they find uninteresting or too blue collar. Which is OK. It was pure vanity to think that working for a big-name publication really made your life better. I make more money now, have much better hours -- and much less "prestige." But I also wouldn't be where I am if I didn't learn certain skills -- like online page design and content management systems -- that I learned while basically earning jack squat trying to make a name for myself online. It wasn't all a waste.
  2. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    I sometimes wonder whether a lot of the "prestige" factor in certain jobs resides mostly in the jobholder's head. I have had some interesting jobs, especially for someone living in my little town, and I never got the sense that anybody here gives a shit. Everybody works, and at some point, that's how everybody sees what everybody does: It's the thing you do in exchange for money so you can do other things. Prestige doesn't give you anything except an ego boost that no one else can feel. Good money, good hours—those count way more. Glad you landed in a good spot.
  3. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    That's true.

    I love what I do but I'm getting tired of the "fake news", "hey liar, you f***ing suck" emails from the Trumpers who just need a place to vent because they don't like Mexicans.
  4. clintrichardson

    clintrichardson Active Member

    In my experience the "prestige" factor was connected with the actual experiences of the job—traveling, being present at newsworthy events, encountering interesting people, the sort of things that make for passable anecdotes at dinner parties. And the sense of prestige went up to the beholder if that person had a job that confined that person to a narrow and/or repetitive world.

    When I look back on my reporting career, that's the stuff I'm most grateful for in my own internal register—I went there, did this, saw that, etc.
    Donny in his element likes this.
  5. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    For sure that's the best part of the gig. It's the travel for me, especially for big sporting events. I still get a buzz off getting paid to be somewhere I would have paid a lot of money to be. Watching Wales at Euro 2016, for instance.

    I've found the stories people are most interested in, sitting around a table, are encounters with celebrity. Probably my least favourite stories to write, but it's an instant hook and people are curious. They're fun party stories.

    You're right: If nothing else, a career in journalism makes you a good party guest.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    A byline makes you recognizable. It's a form of fame. People know who you are, even if they don't actually know you. That's obviously more the case with a well-read national publication that everyone knows than a smaller or niche publication. It would be the same with anyone who had any sort of fame and then ends up doing something like delivering packages to earn a buck. Remember when that actor who used to be on the Cosby Show was turned into a story because he was working at a Trader Joe's? The thing that made that a story for people was that he was recognizable.

    I didn't post this when I first saw the thread and read the story, but it kind of depressed me. A part of it is that it felt to me that he had fallen. Yes, that is unfair of me, because he is just a guy living his life and doing what he has to do, but it is still what I was thinking because unlike someone else in his situation, I knew who Austin Murphy was. Yet I don't know him personally. Take a lawyer or an accountant or a money manager who I have never heard of, and put them in the same situation, and it wouldn't hit me mentally the same way. But put someone I know from a magazine or a TV show or some kind of public position that made him or her famous, and it makes people feel differently. The byline, and the fact that you recognize the person is what makes the difference.

    The other thing that made it a bit depressing for me is that even though I know this is reality for most people, I hate the idea of someone going from doing what they love and earning a living at it, to being forced to do something just to earn a buck. There is obviously no shame in that, but it made me feel for him.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
    britwrit and HanSenSE like this.
  7. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    I've come to realize that's the overwhelming majority of people. That some people were able to get paid decently to do what we love for a period of time is something we should feel grateful for. "I never wrote for Sports Illustrated, but wish I had" contains the names of way more people than "I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I...whatever."
    cake in the rain likes this.
  8. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Grateful for what you got—that's how I feel about it, too. If I have to spend the rest of my life working at Home Depot, I wouldn't be able to complain. I've had it better than most for longer than many. I imagine Austin Murphy feels that way. He can't feel robbed, I don't think. I mean, he might, but he shouldn't.
  9. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Want to see and hear how many people hate their job?

    Go to any busy gas station/convenience store at 6 a.m. Watch them fill their coffee thermos on a cold day as they head out to work. Lots of people working for the man, doing jobs they probably hate.

    I was telling my kids this yesterday at dinner. Be grateful, not just for what you have but that, in your teenage years, you really do have the opportunity in life to write your own story.
    Donny in his element likes this.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I doubt he does. That's why he was able and willing to write that story.

    He's probably even appreciating what he's doing, in a different way than he used to do with sports writing. It's almost inevitable that that happen. He might even be enjoying and liking it, for less stress, the more regular schedule, the relative predictability of it, the local-only travel, the physical workout, and probably even the OK pay for what he's doing.

    The time he spent sports writing and the time he spends doing this will end up being completely different times in his life, and that's how he'll come to look at things, if he hasn't already.
  11. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member

    Not much worse than feeling impelled to talk about work during a presumed social occasion because it's all other people want to talk about.
    And so rarely am I interested to hear what the person does.
    If we must have small talk then even the fuckin weather is preferable to work.
    And we have all been to dinners where livelihood is all one person seems to want to talk about.
    cake in the rain likes this.
  12. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    What also makes me sad about Murphy’s story is that I had read his book on Gagliardi and St. John’s. It was a fun book with some eye-rolling parts. But it ends so positively like a lot of books do, but, as we see, life and reality doesn’t always have happy endings.

    Murphy and his wife, who came off in the book quite poorly, ended up divorced. His little girl, well, you can check out the thread on the other site if you want to find out what happened to her. Her story also seems to play a role in this.
    Donny in his element likes this.
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