…one department head or another asked the 140 freshman wanna-be Spielbergs/Godards/Raimis* in the room to raise their hand if they wanted to be a Director.
Many, including me, raised our hands.
The faculty response: “You’ll be lucky if four of you make it.” (I’m paraphrasing. This happened in 1994.)
When I talk to journalism students, I try to impart a little piece of that message. How many of you think you’re going to be a star reporter at a major metro newspaper? I ask some variant of that question, and hands are raised.
“Lemann also discussed our job prospects. Although he brought up the possibility that we may find work for a news organization he encouraged us to be open to careers as possibly starving internet entrepreneurs saying: “its a really interesting time to be in on the beginnings of the revolution… it’s a great time to put aside thoughts of worldly things and do something really creative if you have the nerve.” I agree with Lemann that this transitional period could lead to great opportunities, but I know firsthand that you need capital along with cojones to start your own business ventures.”
That’s something that approaches the right idea.
What the NYU orientation hand-raising exercise did for me was to focus my attention on learning a craft and a set of skills rather than being an auteur.
So, journalism students about to start school for the semester: Are you trying to be an auteur, or an entrepreneur?
*I was a wanna-be Godard, and there weren’t many of those left at the end of four years.