Training to be the carnival barker in the playground of the rich?

The semester is over, the final project burn is wearing through and I’m taking a good hard look at where this road is going.

A common reaction I get from newsies when I say I’m going back for a master’s –from my comfy seat as a NASA government contractor – is: “What the hell, Hille? WHY?”

Then I see this story, courtesy of another dropout reporter (Jeremy Breningstall, from the Gazette days): The ‘Rich Guy Play Toy’ Future of Newspapers. 

Well, not much new to tell there – I’ve tweeted and facebooked for wealthy Republicans, for wealthy entertainment moguls, for a wealthy Baltimore Democrat’s pro-business publication. My last serious job was working for the Phil Anschutz (Narnia movies?)-owned Examiner chain – (and before that the Phillips-family- owned Journal, who’s scion “We’re number two! Be Proud!” was famously charged with indecent exposure in Virginia). So now Voice of Reason Warren Buffett owns Media General.

Does anybody believe Buffett’s organization can find the magic formula to make these properties stop hemorrhaging readers and money? More importantly, do I believe I can find something I love that supports my growing family anywhere near this industry?

I don’t know, but my current employer is willing to gamble on this degree, so here I go again. Ultimately, it’s a gamble that will pay off, in the newsroom or where I am. There’s enough flexibility in the Philip Merrill Returning Journalist Master’s Program to incorporate a variety of flexible news and analysis skills for the Internet age – computer-assisted reporting, database and web skills.

And I got an A in my first class, which means my company will be that much happier to cover it – as soon as I figure out how that works.

I’m not taking a summer session class – the offerings were pretty spare and I have a good bit of work to do to make Philip Merrill actually recognize me as a serious student: GRE, letters of recommendation, letter of intent.

That and the spring semester was pretty brutal – taking vacation time to finish projects, tucking in the kids, then trying, and usually failing, to find some energy left to write code, taking on evening and weekend duties to make up for missing Monday afternoons in the cube farm.

Plus I’ve already signed up for another class that has little to do with journalism and everything to do with motorcycles, but that’s another story.

Hey, and check out our project.