Mid-fellowship Crisis

By: JIE JENNY ZOU | Published: February 12, 2015

I’m more than halfway through my yearlong fellowship at The New York World and I’m starting to assess what I’ve done, what I hoped to do, and most importantly, think critically about what I can realistically do by the time July rolls around.

This job has been unlike any other job/internship I’ve had in that I’ve been given a lot of freedom to pursue unique stories that take a long time to develop. It was a big jump from my last gig where I was one of five reporters at a daily southern newspaper churning out quick hits and breaking news. The pressure of time still exists, but it’s kind of just there, sitting in the background like a mocking parent asking you what your next move is.

I’ve learned that I’m the kind of person who can get easily wrapped up in projects, which can be both a good and bad thing. It’s good because it gives me motivation to see a project through and think outside the box, but it can be bad because I’m the type to report and report and report, but dread the actual writing and disseminating part of journalism.

Without a solid beat and quick turnover of stories, it’s been hard to build sources. Each project feels like I’m starting from scratch. It means having to earn a source’s trust from the ground up, and figuring out an agency’s particular quirks and processes as quickly and thoroughly as possible without jumping down a never-ending rabbit hole.


I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far, but the fear of what’s next has always loomed large since I started journalism. Having worked entirely on projects for the last couple of months, it’s hard to imagine myself back on the daily grind of things. At the same time, it might be nice to embrace a faster pace again. Sometimes I look longingly at my Twitter feed at reporters working on stories with immediacy.

Within the next couple of months, I hope to wrap up three projects I’ve been working on and perhaps tackle shorter pieces with a faster turnaround based on the dozens of open records requests I have pending (!). And of course, to start the job search.

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