I turned the key. Ding, ding, ding. Dashboard lights blinking. Radio on.
But where was the vrum vrum vrum of the engine turning over? It was already 92 degrees out, and I was already running late, and I was already trying to cram too much into the day. No car? Forget it. I quit plan A and skipped the Columbia game and let myself be nagged by guilt throughout the Mizzou game. I can’t do everything!
No, I can’t, and it’s not just physically watching games that have been making me question my purpose as a journalist. There is a profusion of information directors in sports — and at every company — who serve the honorable purpose of protecting their athletes and the maybe-honorable-maybe-not purpose of making their departments look good. There is no shortage of information these days. Who cares if I write a profile on two Hawaiian volleyball players in Missouri? You could just look at their bios on the athletic department’s website. Better yet, you could read the profile already published by the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Do journalists even matter? Do they do anything for democracy? Snowden could’ve leaked NSA documents on a personal blog, and they probably would’ve gone viral. A New York Times article quotes Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers infamy: “Toobin and Grunwald [journalists who spoke out against Julian Assange and others like him] are doing the work of the government to maintain relationships and access.” If even those journalists who are keeping politicians in check are really in bed with the politicians, then WHAT IS THE POINT?
I said as much to my dad last night. He said, “Where is the information director writing the story about Zeontrez Marshall?”*
Oh. Right, Dad.
It’s easy to forget, writing for a newspaper, that my goal in magazine writing is to slow down and always write the stories that have been overlooked. That I won’t always be rushing around, churning out two stories a week and feeling guilty about missing volleyball games. That I don’t need to be heard by everyone (as Dad reminded me) in order to write something meaningful. That even when you replace your car battery and you still need a new starter and you get wayyyy behind on homework for the weekend…ok, maybe then you should reevaluate a few things. But maybe, just maybe, there’s something worthwhile about journalism.