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Heidi Kingstone Headshot

Journalism - a Luxury Pursuit

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Who ever thought that journalism would morph into a hobby rather than a career? That seems to be what is happening with newspaper circulations in free fall and the finest brains in the industry trying to work out how to save that old print dinosaur because they also can't figure out how to make money from the swelling switch to the internet.

Staff across the board -- and across continents -- has been cut back to starvation rations, and so too have salaries. In London the Independent Group is fighting for its life as money flows out faster than readers, or certainly faster than ketchup out of a Heinz bottle -- the chairman who just stepped down used to be the head of Heinz.

Journalism is no less popular a career choice these days, but it is fast becoming the preserve of the 'independently' wealthy, or at least reserved for those who can afford to do it. People who have a passion for journalism, for news or writing, who want to go off to cover wars or the more wretched places on earth stick with it. For now. Instead of joining the more financially savvy journalists who opt for careers in public relations or corporate communications.

Some have the luxury of being financially independent, others depend on their spouse's large salaries -- women or men who have real jobs in law or maybe the few left with well paying jobs in banking.

For many of us who can't yet severe the tie, it is a labor of love. Newspaper budgets have been so heavily cut and so brutalized that often writers and reporters and photographers fund their trips out of their own pockets, rarely making back the money they have invested in their crumbling careers and uncertain futures. Usually because that's the only option, the precursors to a new breed.

It's these die-hards who go off to places like Afghanistan to freelance, somehow having to balance the artificially high cost of living in war zones offset with the paltry amount that they get paid for articles or photos. Or they continue to pontificate from behind computer screens about the future of places they have never been.

Of course there will always be the highly paid stars of TV screens, or large institutions that still have foreign bureaus, and the world will adapt to the new, exciting, revolutionary changes technology brings. Right now journalism is stuck in that interregnum -- no longer able to cling to the past but not quite sure how to navigate the future. It's not unlike the dinosaurs who roamed the earth and then one day were hit by a meteorite that wiped them out.