Does Jim look like a decrepit, old workamper who’s down on his luck?
Sadly, the image of old, broke and destitute full-time RVing workampers is now being promoted all over TV, radio and the Internet thanks to another example of the sad state of journalism.
Workampers are Not Victims
Today, NPR’s “Here and Now” show aired a story about living in RVs and workamping on the road. Jim and I had waited all day for this story with gleeful anticipation. That’s because we took it for granted that an organization like NPR would present a story that covered all of the great aspects of living and working as full-time RVers.
But instead, here’s the grossly inaccurate story the public was served up, by
creative writing journalism professor Jessica Bruder, who wrote an August 2014 Harper’s Magazine article called “The End of Retirement: When You Can’t Afford to Stop Working.”
A Self-Serving, One-Sided Agenda
As a professional writer I find it appalling that someone with such a one-sided agenda could make it into Harper’s Magazine. Is traditional media so broke and desperate for newsworthy content that they’re willing to overlook fact-checking and balanced points of view? If this was her way of spotlighting the sad state of the US economy, then she could have done it with more accuracy and integrity than something you’d find on Fox News.
But no. Bruder was able to dig up the small minority of workampers who are down on their luck, and she ran with it. Her article spotlighted photos of crappy old RVs and portrayed full-time RVers as destitute and downtrodden. She took the workamping concept and twisted it into a nightmare.
Did Bruder make an effort to dig deeper and talk to the majority of full-time RVers who are living this lifestyle because we choose to? No. Did she talk to those of us who are not retirement age? Nope. Or did she make an effort to interview those of us who wouldn’t have life any other way (we’re not that hard to find)? That would be asking way too much.
Instead, she scraped the bottom of the barrel to create a sensationalistic piece that would propel her reputation up (yet again) as the “subculture journalist” in mainstream media — all at the expense of the term “workamping” and the concept of full-time RVing. Talk about an agenda!
In 1992 when I graduated from college with a journalism degree in hand, a professor in another department said to me, “So, how does it feel to enter a dying field?” He was so right. Real journalism is dead. Bruder’s article in Harper’s Magazine and her professor status at Columbia School of Journalism is proof. How scary that she’s teaching her methods to the incoming ranks.
RIP journalism. It was nice knowing you.
Meanwhile, here are other venues where her article is discussed. If you disagree as much as we do, I encourage you to comment: