Home > Horizontal Loyalty, Journalism, Personal, Rant > A plea: Why you should not leave journalism
28 Mar

A plea: Why you should not leave journalism

Posted by 10 comments

This isn’t a post defending why I love journalism. Nor is it one condemning those that have left it.

This post is a plea.

This morning I saw a tweet that led me to this sad reality:

A new study finds that, in 42% of companies, low performers actually report being more engaged – more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization, for example – than middle and high performers do.”

That line made me reflect on my life… and the lives of the peers I truly respect. We’re all frustrated and “unhappy.” Well, according to some people.


Because we are passionate.

Because we are not satisfied.

Because we know what it could be, which is so much more than what it currently is.

And we’re fighting for it. It’s a struggle… but we do it.

In many of my peers’ careers, including mine, you look around the organization and are in shock.

In shock because while we bust our collective asses in our struggle, others – these “low performers” – have moved up along side us.

They have failed up.

Don’t tell me you can’t immediately think of at least one name in your newsroom right now.

They’ve been there forever. Before you got there and started trying to change things… and quite honestly, they’ll be there after you leave. These people mean well… but they don’t fight for their beliefs like we do.

We – and I am not saying this is healthy – break down in tears from the frustration of our struggle. We question our own value, despite our incredible track records of change and success. We question our life and doubt all the sacrifices we’ve made along the way… even though we’d do it all over again.

But, which is understandable, we burn out. And we leave. Leave the heartbreak. (Or, which happens too, we leave the company for a better one. But we will inevitably be unsatisfied again.)

In all this… we also leave behind those satisfied “low performers” … and that’s how they move up.

Back to my plea.

I know it sucks. I know it is so crippling at times. I know you question the direction of your life. I know you think you are crazy (you must be, right, because no one is freaking out as much as you are). I know all this.

But I also know you are not alone. That you are not crazy. And that we are better off with you fighting for your beliefs.

We are better off with you in journalism – or in what ever industry you are frustratingly passionate about.

Take a break. Make a change. But don’t give up… and don’t you dare get falsely satisfied.

Stay hungry. I know it hurts sometimes, but stay hungry.

When you have doubts, look to your passionate peers. Remember Horizontal Loyalty. Re-read the Holstee Manifesto. And, occasionally, watch videos like this or this.

But stay. And make the difference.

PS: Please read this back to me if/when you see me doubting/questioning myself. Please.

  1. Elizabeth Zavala
    March 28th, 2013 at 08:54 | #1

    LOVE this. It’s right on. And I miss being a daily news journalist. :(

    quick edit: This isn’t a post defending while I love journalism. should ‘while’ be WHY?

    • Robert
      March 28th, 2013 at 09:20 | #2

      Thanks! Fixed. D’oh!

  2. Stephanie DeCamp
    March 28th, 2013 at 10:14 | #3

    Thank you so much for writing this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear, at exactly the right time. I just finished covering a murder trial, and it absolutely drained me. Yesterday I was talking to my brother and saying that I was going to leave reporting, that I couldn’t put myself through all of this over and over again.. and here you are, with these shining words of wisdom. Well done.

  3. Robert
    March 28th, 2013 at 10:21 | #4

    @Stephanie DeCamp It’s okay if you don’t like covering murder trials. It’s okay if you want a change or need a break. It’s okay… but don’t give up on what you are passionate about.

  4. Gerry
    March 28th, 2013 at 13:20 | #5

    Thank you because sometimes I feel so empty and so desperate about my job… But I love it, still. When I’m too tired and it happens more and more often these days, I think about leaving it, maybe expecting too much from it. Your words made me feel like I’m not alone and it feels good. I needed it.

    • Robert
      March 28th, 2013 at 13:23 | #6

      You are not alone! Believe me.

  5. April 4th, 2013 at 09:06 | #7

    Ahhh Robert, I envy your tenacity and your ability to give a pep talk is unmatched. I’m not sure if I will go on or not after leaving my job (http://annatarkov.com/goodbye-sun-times-media-hello-journalism). It will depend on whether there are opportunities to do what I care about or not. I could be wrong, but I don’t expect anyone to be beating down my door anytime soon.

  6. EL
    April 10th, 2013 at 10:30 | #8


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