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"A towering ego and a deep awareness of everything going on around you" are necessary ingredients for success in journalism, freelance writer Jeff Bradley advised last night in a Winthrop House writing seminar.
The session was the first in a series of full semester discussions-led by Bradley and another house affiliate-on writing techniques. Next month, students will be able to attend sessions on poetry and fiction writing.
Last night's discussion, which drew 40 students to the Junior Common Room, centered on Journalism. Guests active in various fields of the trade related experience unique to their jobs.
Paul M. Broader '54, a staff writer for the New Yorker and currently an Expository Writing teacher, explained that to secure a position with a literary magazine, an aspiring writer must first have his work published in other publications. "One becomes a writer gradually, not suddenly," he said.
Freelance writing, like literary work, is very shaky at first, a Boston-area journalist warned. Susan Quinn, who has done psychoanalytic pieces for Atlantic Monthly and Esquire, expressed the frustration involved. "You are always having to make a pitch, selling your always having to make a pitch, selling your wares." She added that "heads roll, people get fired, and everything changes--suddenly a job that you were very comfortable in is gone."
While all noted that journalism can be quite competitive. Dan Brewster, a Nieman Journalism Fellow and Congressional Correspondent for Cable News Network, stressed that cut-throat behavior is especially acute in television. "You don't find too many friends within the industry," he said.
Another common subject raised in the two-hour session was the unpleasantness often involved with a career in writing. Brewster observed that "successful marriages are rare." Bradley said that a recent survey found that the average starting salary for a Journalist or a writer is $4,000 a year.
But Broader added that these inspired to make it a career should "do it while you're young and have nothing to risk but your ego."
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