In recent viral video news, Marina Shifrin, who worked as a content editor at Next Media Animation, Taiwanese news animation company responsible for animated news hits such as US-Sino Currency Rap Battle or the one on US airport security body scans, quit her job with a bang, by releasing the above-embedded video.
Shifrin also wrote a post on her blog about her departure, and how journalism is “dead” to her.
I dropped everything for work. I spent hours in the office perfecting my headlines, my voice overs, my stories. But as the workload increased, I found I could no longer keep up. I tried. I came in earlier, I stayed later, I worked on weekends. Scared I wasn’t pulling my weight, I went to my boss and told him how I felt.
“Make deadlines, not art,” was his response.
After I admitted that I could not hit the deadlines needed to put out our long-form, satirical news pieces, I was moved to our serious stories. Guess what I figured out? Journalism is the worst! I mean if you’re not reporting about which Kardashian is pregnant, then you’re reporting about a baby that was shot in the head.
I understand Shifrin’s frustration with writing what she calls “fluff” pieces — after all I once tried writing for Buzzfeed, and it was the most excruciating animated-gif-laden piece I’ve ever produced, and was not proud of it when it was finished. However, what I don’t get is if she can’t keep up with journalism deadlines, where news is produced every day, what was she expecting journalism to be when she decided to embark on that journey in college? Was she not expecting a breakneck pace of work?
J-school tends to give the impression that people have the luxury of time to slowly craft and follow a story, but at least through internships and having to produce content daily, journalism students should know that a lot is expected of them in the span of a day. Shifrin’s beef with her boss’s rather reasonable expectations of her to make deadlines is rather unfounded.
Also, did she not know what she was getting into when she entered Next Media Animation? Perhaps she did, and thought she could outlast the content NMA produces. But she calls having found NMA “different.”
It was for an animation company where I was free to make jokes and put my personality into my writing. I loved it! I found the perfect combination between comedy and journalism. I was having my cake, eating it AND going in for seconds.
She apparently knew what she was getting into, and the whole “NMA produces only fluff” stand seems rather dubious at best.
Her quitting has attracted coverage from quite a few major sites: Wall Street Journal sees her dramatic exit as the product of Millennials’ cynicism, Huffington Post sees it as internet win, and Gawker merely touts it as a young person unable to news aggregation and quitting.
From a Singapore popular opinions site, The Real Singapore has also picked up on the story and wrote their own scathing take on Shifrin’s resignation. They called it a quitting in the “most narcissistic, viral way possible.” They also wrote:
This is the big villain of Shifrin’s piece, the boss who wanted her to hit “deadlines” instead of crafting the “art” of her journalism. Well guess what? Journalism isn’t art.
This is why there is no respectable journalism in Singapore; even sites such as The Real Singapore, which purports to deliver news and journalism as an alternative to the mainstream Singapore media, don’t even respect journalism themselves.
I’ve gone through school to study journalism and how to be a journalist, I want to be a journalist. But it is very easy for many to dismiss journalism as being art, or even fail to see how it can possibly be art. I don’t see how the connecting of the lives of others around the world in as succinct a piece as possible isn’t a form of art.
When Shifrin says she “quits journalism,” it really makes one wonder if she’s meant for journalism in the first place. Pursuing journalism has always been akin to some sort of willing self-debasement — one expects to lose time, friends, and relationships to journalism. But being a journalist is about despite knowing these and still staying on, because one really loves the news. That’s really why anyone would willing put themselves through such torture.
Surviving journalism is all about being in the right news sector.
Comic taken from Corpse Run Comics
It has come to the point where I am adrift, and am asking myself what am I doing. I feel like I’m at an impasse — neither going forward, nor does returning look favourable.
I am afraid:
…of the future — I can’t even see what lies ahead any more, where previously I had mapped out a life for myself. Having no success starting in that path, that vision eludes me more every day.
…of the present — How much longer can I keep this up? Waking up today, knowing that nothing has changed for the better, makes me afraid to wake up tomorrow, that tomorrow will be just as it is today.
..of the past — I look back, and see people I’ll have to face should I fail to succeed. How can I even send an email to my mother when I still have yet to accomplish anything I had set out to do?
I had a purpose, and it is still there. Is it keeping me strong, or am I merely hunkering down, to be whittled away slowly? This purpose of mine fuels me with so much fear and uncertainty that on certain days, I feel as if my heart is going to just give in.
In the original Japanese link of the image, like one of the commenters said about the first characters of the writing on the board, “五十せ？” It was supposed to be 幸せ, just really messily written. Looks like teachers are guiltiest of messy handwriting more so than students.
Death is indeed the final departure, but that does not mean that the echoes of our lives can’t have some lasting effects on the lives of those who survive us. One Japanese school teacher understood that he was nearing the end of his time on earth and did what he could to dispel the certain grief of his beloved students the only way he knew how. He gave them one last homework assignment.
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However, many do not know that art nouveau took a lot of inspiration from Japanese art, especially woodblock prints, ukiyo-e. From Wikipedia:
Two-dimensional Art Nouveau pieces were painted, drawn, and printed in popular forms such as advertisements, posters, labels, magazines, and the like.Japanese wood-block prints, with their curved lines, patterned surfaces, contrasting voids, and flatness of visual plane, also inspired Art Nouveau. Some line and curve patterns became graphic clichés that were later found in works of artists from many parts of the world.
And ukiyo-e’s flatness of dimension highly influenced the Japanese animation industry, and that particular art style is sometimes called “superflat.”
Thus I thought it really interesting when I came across this article of a Japanese ex-host (escort) Takumi Kanehara who gave up his life at the bar pleasing woman and turned to creating pleasing works of art. He produced a series of Art Nouveau Mucha-style pictures of various Studio Ghlibli’s works such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and more. Thus in essence, anime art nouveau. How does one even begin to describe that? A work based on modern Japanese animation using a Western art style inspired by traditional Japanese art.
To find out more of his works, here is Kanehara’s Twitter.
Photo credits to Doug Mills/The New York Times
For those who are confused why the shutdown happened, here is a New York Times graphic showing the spending bill that was bounced back and forth between the Senate and the House, and the lack of resolution on the future budget led to the shutdown.
For those who are curious as to which agencies specifically are affected and how many people will be furloughed, here’s a CNN searchable interactive list of all agencies affected, with numbers of furloughed listed as well.
P.S. When I first saw that NY Times picture (posted above), I thought I saw a picture of a guard precariously balancing on guard rails.