Stories From a Drifter: What advice do you have for journalists who are struggling with declining readership, newsroom staff cuts, low pay and stagnant wages?
Nicholas Kristof: I think the business model issue is the big problem. And I don’t think there’s going to be a good solution to that. I think philanthropy may help in some places. Uhh, but, I think a lot of journalism is — especially local journalism — is going to be really kind of screwed for years to come until we find some kind of better business model. And, so, you know, for the individuals, I don’t have a great answer other than try to develop the skill sets that people are moving toward, you know, with multimedia, and this kind of thing, because it makes one more marketable. And the skill set is — even if one ends up doing something else — the skill set in journalism is incredibly useful I think in anything else but it’s going to be, it is rough times and it will continue to be rough times in journalism.
SD: Any advice for someone who wants to start being, like, some sort of foreign correspondent out there in the world?
NK: Umm, you know, one option is work for an English language paper in, like in Hong Kong, there is the South China Morning Post, or in Bangkok, the Bangkok Post, or wherever it may be. Those papers will often be willing to hire an American native English speaker who’s got journalism experience and it may not be, it may not pay great, but the cost of living is usually pretty low and it could be a great experience in a different country so that might be something to think about.
KF: So lemme get this straight. A bunch of heavily-armed men killed 30 civilians with drones and one of their own men died and the TV networks are playing sappy music and showing the dead man’s face as they go to commercial. You don’t see the problem with that?
JT: Are you saying you don’t care about the troops? One of our men died out there in the desert.
KF: Yeah, so did 30 people who weren’t involved with whatever was going on. I thought all lives matter?
JT: Yeah, but they’re different, they’re used to this stuff. They don’t know any better.
KF: All I’m saying is, take a look at this from a neutral point of view and think about who are the terrorists.
JT: Dude, Americans aren’t terrorists. We don’t believe in that. Everything we do is because we want to help these countries. We just believe in freedom.
KF: Name the two biggest terrorists organizations.
JT: Al Qaeda and ISIS.
KF: How about Israel and the United States? They are like a couple of terrorist bullies who do whatever they want. But the people who are in power can call it whatever they like. They are just spreading freedom or trying to protect our interests — they call it defense.
JT: Man, you better watch out you know they might see this, right?
KF: I type everything I write in Google Docs. They are always watching. They know where my cursor is right now. They are probably watching me through my webcam, too. Whatever, call me a voyeur.
JT: You’re typing right now? I thought we were talking face-to-face.
KF: Hey, you can think whatever you want. I know what I’m doing.
JT: Fuck, I’m becoming too aware I can’t last much longer.
KF: I thought that might happen. Well, maybe I’ll see you next week. I’ll still be here.
I wish we didnt have so many screens. Or any screens. I think its making everyone depressed. Or maybe its just me. I want to go back to the forest. To sleep under the pines and feel the wind pass over my face. Now its all walls and ceilings. They are meant to keep us in. To separate civility from chaos. It makes us forget what we are. Be wary of the illusion. The ducks play in the water all day because they can.
I should chill on this wine, I haven’t been drunk since I moved to Utah. It’s new year’s eve and I’m alone just like I was alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I will be alone on my birthday in 22 days. It’s OK. Last year on Christmas I was at a pool party at a hostel in New Zealand and on new year’s eve I was at a friend’s wedding in Australia. Now I’m here. Listening to Childish Gambino’s new album. James Franco is the white Donald Glover don’t you ever forget. He said he just makes everything for everyone. That has stuck with me. I just write shit and see what happens. God damn he is so creative. Best TV show of the year, great music and he’s going to be fucking Lando. No one can just be one thing these days. You have to be a powerful creator. Powerful creators can do anything and everything. It’s something inside your bones that radiates electricity. I remember the last time I felt electricity. I was with the one I pine over and it was years ago. She was right though she saw the future and I have no control.
I am just a breathe.
That’s what yoga has taught me. I am just a breathe. My legs are different lengths and nothing is perfect I have a scar on my back from the same cancer that took the Singer. When I walked into the surgeon’s officer he said, melanoma, that’s what the Singer died of. Did he know that I sing his songs or did he just assume since I have long hair and a beard? Some things just can’t be explained. I just wonder sometimes if this is all a game and things are thrown at me, no they are thrown at everyone but most people don’t listen. They are distracted, busy dealing with what is placed in front of them. I found this notebook full of drawings when I worked at the recycling plant. I don’t understand how people can throw away such meaningful, inspired pieces of art. Some artists just create and create and create and then their final work of art is to throw it all away. But I found it and they have no idea. They don’t know that everything people throw in the recycling bin floats by on a conveyor belt and humans watch it and some let if float by but sometimes these humans feel something. Cardboard, newspaper, plastic bottles, a lawnmower, and then a beautiful work of art. How did that get there? Why did someone throw this away?
The book is full of cathartic sketches. The one I can’t stop thinking about says: “a fox contemplates the skull of his dead mother in his den. he resents death and is trying to justify to himself his existence as a meat eating creature.”
Why am I here? I don’t eat meat anymore but I still consume. I have to consume. I have to bend otherwise I would break. I don’t want any of this. I am surrounded by humans who ignore the truth. They don’t think about what I know. They didn’t sit under the mountains in New Zealand for hours just staring into the eyes of the world. They didn’t grab the calves and throw them into the trailer an hour after they were born. They didn’t hear their mother’s screams. I’m sorry. I’ms ororry. I;msorry. I didn know. I didnlt kmnownijsdfjf HOw can I eve be forgiven for thes etransgressions. This is the way I was raised and no one told me what it was I just consumed. I;m sorry. WE are the same. I would graldy give myself for your life. I am sorry. Esther forgive me. They don;’t know. They don;’t knoe waht I feel inside. They didn’t hitch hike up and down and up and down the south island and they never talked to the people I talked to and they never stood on the street with a backpack and a guitar and they never stuck out their thumb and waited. Just waited. In the rain. I just waited and then a sweet little old lady picked me up and she said she just lieks driving. I love you. I love everyone. I love you all. Hitch hiking gives you so much overwhelming love. SO many strangers that touched me and I know I touched them. Thanky you all. It’s 9:59 it’s almost a new year in Virginia where all of my family lives. Happy new year.
There’s a good chance the world as we know it will end in 2017. I am a journalist how do I inform the public of our wrongs? I can’t. It’s a losing game. The Earth will always win. Let your climate anxiety go the Earth will be fine. Everything will be fine. Animals, humans will die off, never to be seen again. But the past 100 years is a blink of an eye. The Earth is strong. The Earth will prevail. Us? These human bodies that we occupy? ha. hahah. Yoga has begun to teach me. I know nothing, I am nothing. But I am on the right path. Yes, I know that. I am sure of that. It takes years and years and years and life times and life times but eventually a human can come face to face with god. A human can become god with enough patience. It takes time. I am nothing. I am nothing. I am just a breathe. My guru is tough. She pushes me and I don’t even know if she knows. But I know.
My aunt wrote me a Christmas card and said she hopes I find true happiness in 2017. That was the best Christmas present I received. I grew up with a living room full of things on dec. 25. So many things that I didn’t even really want or need. I mean I wanted them at the time. But that was before I was me. I didn’t know we are in a crisis. How can I justify my existence now? I need a new laptop I need new gloves and I need new boots but do I really? The harddrive is dead and it’s not working right now and my fingers and my feet were freezing this morning when I woke up at 5:30 to ride along on a snowmobile with a cross country ski trail groomer and I saw the stars twinkle above and the foot of snow sparkled below and he yelled back at me telling me facts about skiing. The wind was whipping and biting my fingers and legs and all I have is the 30 dollar steel toe boots I bought for working at the recycling plant. But do I NEED anything? Hitch hiking taught me that everything will be OK as long as I’m not going to die. It taught me to wait in the rain because eventually someone would see me and accept the quest that I presented. I am a quest. I didn’t need anything. I gave away the clothes that I spent 100sand100s of dollars on because I was rich with Australian bartending money. I had so much money from Australia and then New Zealand taught me that I don’t need anything. I bought so much shit from Kathmandu and then I gave it all away. I was buying life lessons. If I had never left the cave I would never be sitting here in a Mormon’s living room writing these words on new year’s eve, alone. But that cave was so comfortable. I never knew that an entire world existed outside of that cave. We should have never left that cave.
But it is selfish to stay in the cave. And it is selfish to reproduce in multiples of threee. I want to reproduce too but you guys are clogging up the world with all of your babies. Please, stop. Every organism wants to carry on their genes, but not when we are in a global crisis. And, no, I won’t write run on sentences, thank you very much even if you expect that since I am drinking wine and I have a very low tolerance. I have style, OK? I refuse to be predictable. But maybe you already knew I would do this. WTF.
Wine is a high functioning drink for me. Beer makes me annoying. Liquor makes me blackout and do dumb shit. But wine, wine gives me a clear head. At least I think it does when I drink wine. I wish I had some friends around here. But I chose this fate and I write things in the newspaper everyday and writing about people makes it hard to make friends. I have a coffee date with a 29-year-old single mom next week. Tinder is fucking lame.
OK, you’re losing steam here, buddy. Find where you were. I wasn’t anywhere, man. There is no point to this. You were watching King Ragnar Lothbrok drink wine with King Ecbert and speaking in kings’ riddles and you were drinking wine with them and laughing and jesting and enjoying the company of two old friends and then King Aella killed Ragnar.
God damn I fucking hate how Macs had to make everything different from PCs.