Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My son has changed his College major.....

My son, who has wanted to be a photojournalist or news/documentary photographer/videographer since he started high-school, has changed his major.
His ultimate goal was to work for National Geographic or perhaps Discovery Communications doing photo/video jobs on amazing things in interesting locations. Changing his major was a Big Thing for him, as he really had that fire that burns in someone that you just know will be good in the field they're studying for. He's taken award-winning photographs, and has had some of his works shown in galleries and museums, and did the video for a couple of really good student films, so he's extremely good at doing the "photo/video" part.
It was the "journalism" part that broke his spirit.
Since he was little, I've tried to teach him to be objective, questioning, balanced, and fair in his views on things. It started when we were watching infomercials, and I'd point out obvious (to me, anyway) flaws in the claims being made for "New and Improved Miracle" products, and why what was being shown wasn't really what was happening. One of our favorite 'inside' jokes is "But wait, there's MORE!". As he grew older, I could see him coming to question things that "Just didn't look right", and asking for hard facts to back up outlandish or questionable claims. He even knows by heart the Carl Sagan quote "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", which made me feel I'd been doing my Dad Job pretty well the first time I heard him say it. And he knows enough to check his facts from multiple, different sources, and dig into those sources to verify their accuracy, before committing anything to print. He always received A and B grades for his assignments, and had worked his way up from being one of the Staff Photographers to being the Photo Editor for the college newspaper.
So what happened?
Well, for one thing, he was getting dismayed over some of the staff not researching their articles properly, and submitting unsubstantiated items for publication. Granted, this isn't a major newspaper, but by the time you're in college, you should know the rules about how to research and write a story that can hold up to scrutiny. He was also upset over the political leanings of the paper, and how it would just parrot whatever the big papers said, but written in a way that made it "make sense" to the students. History got ignored, and the populist/progressive/socialist agenda had the green light.
In short, he just got tired of people not doing their "job" correctly, and the faculty overseers of the paper letting it all pass.
Now when I was his age, I had pretty much been blessed with a set of job skills that were "politically neutral" (Electronics), so other than working with people who I might not agree with politically, I wasn't working in an environment (The Media) where I was constantly bombarded with things I not only didn't agree with, but knew were flawed. I've only had one job in my entire career where being "PC" was not only expected, but company policy, especially at the highest levels. My fellow Engineering-type grunts used to laugh about it amongst ourselves, but we were always wary of what we said, and to who, lest HR come crashing down on us because we weren't "Sensitive to the needs of others" or some other BS.
I know my son is an excellent photographer, and the fire for that "Perfect Shot" still burns in him. He would have made a fine documentary photographer, and perhaps when he grows a bit older he'll get back into it.
For now, though, I'm sure he'll make a fine EMT, his new major, and another area he's always been interested in.

5 comments:

  1. It's a tough decision, and it speaks well of both him & you that he was able to face facts & decide objectively.

    Good luck to him.

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  2. Tough choice. I wish him the best. Don't forget a couple of business courses. They will pay off big no matter what the direction or career.

    I always wanted to be a doctor. I hit the wall 3/4 in. I know what it feels like.

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  3. Best wishes to him in his career change! My daughter did a similar change from legal to paramedic, and she's happy with her decision and is enjoying being a paramedic in Sac.

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  4. From what I know about Nat Geo, the environment there is very-very Eco-Correct nowadays.

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  5. Yeah, I suspect he wouldn't happy there, either, unless they just gave him an assignment and said "Shoot away!".
    Of course he'd want to borrow my Marlin or Remington 700....

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Keep it civil, please....