Year in J-School (Part 13) — Burnt Out

I want to write things like this!

I have never been more exhausted in my LIFE. Last night I was going to go out but I ended up succumbing to a bought of stress and exhaustion: I slept from 11:30 p.m. straight through to 11:30 a.m. this morning. YIKES.

I love school and I’m learning a lot but I feel like the premise that Columbia tethers itself to is kind of impossible. Ninety percent of the time I feel like I’m a full-time reporter AND a full-time student. Instead of giving my all to one story or one project I can only give some of myself to lots of different things.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to be the kind of journalist that Columbia wants me to be. We have all these speakers who have been in war zones, uncovered scandals, covered crime…and that’s just not what I’m into. Tuesday we had Kerry Burke, a crime reporter for the NY Daily News come in and talk to us about covering crime. He was talking about the importance of breaking news and said:

There’s no more powerful story than life and death. If you can’t handle bodies then someone has to cover art openings.

What if I WANT to cover art openings? I understand that I’ll have to work my way up but my ultimate goal is to write long-form features for NY Magazine or Rolling Stone. I want to review albums, comment on pop culture, write columns. I want to write in-depth stories for the Village Voice. I want to write to tell people’s stories but I don’t want to do it in a war zone, a foreign country or on a tight deadline. I want to deeply explore everything I write about. Blame it on the history major.

When asked in an SPJ meeting who I would like to come speak to us my top three are Chuck Klosterman, Rob Sheffield and Jann Wenner–not Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward or Edna Buchanan.

I guess my goals are just different from everyone else’s. I’m O.K. with that but at the same time I feel like my neighborhood lacks the kind of stories I want to write. The Bronx was the birthplace of hip-hop but where’s the music scene now? I’d love to do a story about local bands from the Bronx…but how do i find them. I’ve been asking around for nearly a month now.

I spent time in the East Village and Lower East Side today with my sister and I couldn’t help but be jealous of Kaitlin, who’s covering the area. I feel like for someone as into music as I am that the LES is the PERFECT place to find up and coming bands. I’m not going to give up on the Bronx. I’m not a quitter (and I can’t) but I just wish the music angle was coming easier.

Anyone know any music groups or bands from the Bronx that I can write about?

And now, as I spend my Saturday night reading a plethora of magazines and drinking some green tea, enjoy some of the first rap music to go mainstream (AND come out of the Bronx, about the Bronx):



  1. Angela · September 18, 2010

    1. My friend is in an arts journalism program at Newhouse at Syracuse. Sure, she’s getting that kind of training that you want — but you’re at COLUMBIA! That puts you about even. I do get where you’re coming from thought. Just remember — I’m jealous of you both. Every time I think about it, I want to go back to school.
    2. Bob Woodward would be kind of a kick-ass speaker, just sayin’. However, if you ever get any of your top three to come — please, oh please smuggle me in. We can go get drinks with Chuck after, k?

  2. Nancy Cummings · September 19, 2010

    Cait: I feel your pain but all of this will build character….believe me I know…MBA school made no sense to me either…it wasn’t what I wanted to do either! Just stay strong and take every experience for what it is worth….believe your old aunty that it will eventually pay off!

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