in Journalism

It’s time to move along

Sometimes, you just have to admit you were well and truly wrong about something.

This is a tough post for me to write. But in the interests of not burying the lede, I might as well come right out and say it. I have decided not to continue my master’s program in journalism at the end of the semester.

I can boil things down to three points:

  1. Journalism is a really hard profession to be in. You have to truly love the thrill of the hunt to ignore all else that is challenging about being the profession: the long hours, the low pay, the constant rejection of your work. Most people on the “outside” don’t see the amount of effort that goes into an article, a radio item, or a television broadcast. I can tell you that the return-on-investment is very low indeed.
  2. While I am good at doing the work, I am not that kind of a person. I hate all the aspects of reporting: talking to strangers, chasing down sources, in-depth research, convincing reluctant (or hostile) people to give you information. Some folks, including my professors, have told me that the “bootcamp” style of journalism education isn’t representative of the real world, and I should just push through it. But once I realized that no matter if I was given the choice of subject material, story length, or beat, I would still hate it, it was time to depart.
  3. I realize that I’m actually a technology guy who is an enthusiast and consumer of journalism, and not someone who wants to make it his life’s work.

I know many of my classmates have expressed surprise that I’m leaving the program, and for that, I am humbled. It represents a vote of confidence in my work that I frequently feel is undeserved. And I wanted to make it clear that my departure should not be interpreted as a judgment against CUNY’s program. It’s still the best journalism program among all the ones I considered, and the school is well-positioned to tackle whatever upheaval the media industry faces in the coming years.

I’d like to return to technology, but in a less technical role than as a system admin or operations manager. I’m hoping I can find a position that’ll let me use my communications skills: perhaps in product management, perhaps as a technical architect, perhaps something else. I’ll be taking some time off to figure out what exactly these jobs entail and whether they’d be a good fit.

Finally, Meredith and I are staying in New York for the foreseeable future. She has a great job that she loves, and the technology scene here is fabulous. I would be remiss in not trying to take advantage of all the opportunities that the city offers. So, to all my New York friends, please keep in touch and I’ll see you around.

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  1. Julian, you've clearly thought this through, so I'll try and avoid the "please don't go" spiel. But I am really sad to see you leave. And whether you like it or not, you'd have made a pretty awesome journalist. And CUNY really isn't the final word on journalism, you know. Maybe you can still stick with it, while you're pursuing your other interests?

    • Lisa, thanks so much for your support. I realize that leaving the school doesn't mean I can no longer make content! But I definitely think it's more of a hobby than a career for me. I'll miss all you guys and I hope to still see you around the city.

  2. I believe you are still enrolled in the school of life, where informal training and passion may take u where u want faster. Before u complete the semester will u be able to take some ideas and go further with them on your own?


  • Julian Dunn's Journal » Blog Archive » AP’s NewsRight and why it’s destined to fail December 6, 2011

    […] effort into newsgathering and understandably expect a reward at the end. But one of the reasons I decided to leave journalism is that the return-on-investment of my time versus the payout in the end wasn’t worth it to […]