Why I Chose to Be a Journalism Major

In the spirit of being boastful, here’s an essay I had to write for my art of writing class that I’m proud of. I hope you like it!


What do lard-lugging lunchroom ladies, fistfights by the flagpole, and grizzly bears have in common? Diddlysquat to most people. But for me, those three disparate elements come together to spark a memory from my junior year of high school, and I can’t help but think of the first time I wrote for a publication.

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that “The Grizzly Gazette,” the brainchild of my friend Arlo, never made it to print. Like most dreams which got their start in the underfunded and undernourished educational institution I was a part of, it got squashed by the always oppressive state of ambivalence, which hung in the air like a stale fart.

The Onion-esque material we wanted in our rag was mostly satiric and silly. For instance, there were stories about a cafeteria lady who uses her copy of the food code to reach the top shelves and of a proud and pimply pugilist deliberating whether or not to risk his featherweight fisticuffs title after school.

Despite our best efforts to convince them otherwise, our fabricated articles and columns weren’t exactly what the students and teachers of Alliance High School were looking for. Instead they turned to the senescent school newspaper, “The Spud,” which lacked originality and color, but made up for that in starch.

Still, even facing such a lukewarm target audience, the two of us were set on realizing our goal of producing at least one issue. In fact, just before the ultimate collapse of “The Grizzly Gazette,” we had convinced a few other reporters and columnists to join our staff, even stealing one fine writer from “The Spud,” as we pulled a page from Charles Foster Kane’s book.

Everything was looking up. The articles I turned in were my best work, and for the first time there was some proof that the craft could take me somewhere in life. With the constant stench of formaldehyde from the biology room next to my locker and an infatuation with a dozen or so female classmates weighing on my mind, the paper’s inaugural copy was something concrete, impermeable to hormones, and odorless that I could look forward to.

Then Arlo found pot.

From there “The Grizzly Gazette” died a slow, delayed-many-times-over death. Arlo came to class sparingly, and I quickly lost the determination to take on the project myself. The thought of it today still brings an irregular palpitation to my heart, both because of its nostalgia and because it never made it past the first stage.

Just this afternoon I got promoted to beat reporter at the Daily Nebraskan, a feat that deservedly got a hair-shifting fist pump. The decision I made to become a journalism major is due in large part to lunchroom ladies, pimply pugilists, and grizzly bears, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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