I’m not ashamed to admit that, as a kid in the mid-80s, I wanted to be Rick Redfern when I grew up. I still do. But in 2008, of course, he got laid off and had to re-invent himself as a blogger.
Meanwhile, Barbara Ehrenreich told the truth to today’s J-grads. The profession was always considered a trade, anyway. It was elevated into a profession sans license thanks to Woodward, Bernstein and the springing up of local and national television and radio newscasts. Now the vocation has become a real public utility (as in, members of the public, at best, being useful to each other), separated from “job” and “career,” and the old world ain’t coming back.
Black press veterans worked like this from the beginning. I was whining a few years back once to my friend and mentor Judy Dothard Simmons (now an ancestor) about how limited the (paid) Black (national newspaper and magazine) journalistic opportunities were (for me), and, as usual, she corrected me to the quick: “When you came along [late 1980s-early 1990s], working for a national Black(ish) magazine became a full-time job,” explaining to me how new that was. (1990-ish Newsstand Freelancer Roll Call: Black Enterprise, Vibe, The Source, Honey, Shade, Blaze, Black Elegance, The Crisis, Rappages, Emerge, Class, YSB [Young Sisters and Brothers], Heart and Soul, Code, Black Issues Book Review, Upscale, and on and on.) And now, as I see, like Simmons (and, eventually, all of us) how very temporary all of it is.