Journalism isn’t dying; it’s changing.

My friend and former assistant, Cameron, called me yesterday with exciting news. He told me that he got hired on full-time at his “travelling job” that he’s had for a while during school. What’s even more special about this, is that Cam has been “following in my footsteps” for a while now – he was my Entertainment reporter when I was Entertainment Editor at the CU Independent; when I was Managing Editor, he was Entertainment Editor; when I was Chief, he was Managing Editor. We’ve been working extremely close – until, of course, I moved to San Francisco. He brought to my attention that the people involved in the CU Independent that have had the most success in finding jobs after college graduation are the people that have been involved in the Entertainment Section.

I do miss certain aspects of working for the CU Independent. What is a little scary is thinking that there have only been a handful of graduating seniors from the journalism school who have been successful in getting a job out of college. What does that say about journalism?

When I first started attending CU, I knew that I wanted to major in journalism. I got involved in what was then the Campus Press right off the bat. I was a wet-behind-the-ears reporter and loved (almost) every second of it. I found my niche in entertainment and decided I wanted to move up the chain of command. I loved editing even more than reporting, however I never lost my yearning for knowledge or my curiosity.

During my involvement with the newspaper, it went through a significant name change and transformed from a print and online publication to being solely online. As Editor-in-Chief, I had to integrate a whole new environment into the mix: the social space.

Also during my reign as Chief, the beloved Rocky Mountain News, a publication that had been around for nearly 150 years, closed.

Needless to say, the closing of the Rocky was very nerve-racking for many graduating seniors. Many people thought/think that journalism is a dying industry. That people will eventually stop reading newspapers all together. That all newspapers will eventually close down and the entire industry will collapse.

I disagree.

Journalism will never die. Even though I am not directly associated with a specifically journalistic entity, I still write like a journalist, I still fact-check like a journalist, I still interview like a journalist, I still am a journalist.

Journalism isn’t dying, it’s changing.

I completely agree with the people that say “why would anyone want to read yesterday’s news in the paper when they can get last minute’s news right here on their iPhone?” While I, personally, still cherish the touch and feel of a real printed newspaper, I do think they are quickly going out of style. However, journalism isn’t about printed papers. It’s about relaying facts, opinions, stories to the mass public so they are informed. Much like many other old industries – like Advertising, Marketing, PR, etc. – they have to adapt and move with the times. Journalism now has an unlimited of venues for information, through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, readers, feeds, the list could go on forever. The Internet provides journalists with ample opportunities to be read. Journalists can utilize links, images, videos and so much more that the web has to offer.

However, does a declining newspaper industry weaken the overall quality of today’s journalism, or can journalism thrive without traditional papers?

Without a newspaper “going to print” every night, I find that some journalists are slightly more careless with the publishing of their stories thinking, “Oh, if something’s wrong, I can just go back and update it real quick.” That shouldn’t be the mentality. Journalists should take pride in their work and treat it with the same journalistic integrity they would if their article was being printed in ink, on paper. Because, in reality, it could be.

According to a testimony by Ben Scott, Policy Director of the Free Press, there are three problems journalism is facing at this time.

  1. The collapse of some fairly large daily newspapers.
  2. The shift of audiences to the Internet, which brings a decline in circulation and advertising revenue.
  3. The increased ease of access to competing sources of news and information that are freely available and often higher quality.

Scott addresses that the close of the Rocky Mountain News and other large metro daily newspapers is largely because of the Internet.

Scott and I are on the same page in thinking that it’s not all dark and that the blogosphere is exploding with journalistic production and new opportunities are constantly appearing.

“The decline of print newspapers doesn’t mean the decline of journalism.”

Scott says that the biggest problem we face is not the decline in newspapers, it’s the possibility that this industry “failure” will result in the dissipation of tens of thousands of highly trained, experienced reporters and deter tens of thousands of talented students from going to journalism school.

For the future of journalism to succeed, we need to create and sustain a model of news production where it’s possible to earn a living writing the news. The Internet presents us with that challenge. Technology is reformatting the way we all view journalism. It’s not killing it; it’s rebuilding.

“Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.” – NYU professor, Clay Shirky

There are no easy answers to these problems. There’s no right or wrong way to view this apparent change. Now is our opportunity to experiment, test out theories and come up with new, creative models for Journalism to succeed.

What do you think?

You can read all of Ben Scott’s testimony here.

1 Comment

  1. In April 2009, about a month after The Rocky Mountain News folded I wrote a blog post titled “The Demise of the Printed Newspaper is Yesterday’s News.” The premise was that newspapers were filled with yesterday’s news, and the internet wasn’t. Needless to say, I certainly agree with much of what you write today. Journalism isn’t dying, its changing and journalists, true journalists need to understand what that means. They need to continue to produce the highest quality of writing, regardless what medium it is published in. They need to maintain the higest ethical standards, while taking pride in their work. They need to maintain their integrity. All these things you wrote about. “Society doesn’t need newspapers, it needs journalism.” I couldn’t agree more. That is one of the reasons I find myself continually reading “The Off Beat Report!”

    Reply

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