This is a common conversation for journalism majors:
Someone asks us, “What are you studying?”
Then we reply, “Journalism!”
And they say, “Isn’t that a dying industry?”
And then we do one of three things:
1. We roll our eyes and walk away.
2. We start to cry because we wonder if it really is dying and if we are all going to be out of jobs because robots are taking over for us and inevitably we will be out of work and out of luck in life (not true, by the way).
3. Explain that’s it’s not dying. The field of journalism is changing. The way in which we report information is not the same as it was even two years ago. In fact, now Mizzou offers classes that show how to report using all mobile devices. Most news organizations are shifting the structure of the newsroom to have more diverse reporters that can essentially “do it all.” This is, in fact, the most exciting time to be a journalist. We have so much access to our readers and the public that it makes our job even more important to collect truthful, verifiable information and get direct feedback on how we’re doing.
But then again, it is a little scary.
Just yesterday, I read a story about how Sports Illustrated announced that they were going to lay off the last six of their staff photographers.
It admittedly made me upset. Sports Illustrated has always had some of the best sports photography in the business (in my opinion, anyway). However, the existing photographers will still be allowed to freelance for the magazine, but without a tangible contract, how will the magazine ensure that they still have high quality photographs? What if the photographers don’t want to work with the magazine anymore?
I am very excited to be a journalist right now, but sometimes I am a little bit sad about the direction that it’s moving. Quality photographs are an essential part to telling any story, and I just hope that the quality won’t suffer too much.
Our industry must find a balance and find ways to employ the best of the best. The public deserves to know information quickly, but also accurately and with some kind of depth.
The constant skepticism also makes me wonder, Does anyone actually read the newspaper any more? Does anyone really appreciate what we do anyway?
But then yesterday I received a nice email from Harold Johnson, who was quoted in my article about the new Hominy Creek Trail connector to a neighborhood in Columbia.
“You prepared a very nice article in the Missourian I am sure your future in Journalism is very good. I am a retired Prof. from the College of Agriculture, so I am happy to see an excellent student performing her assignments in an A plus manner.”
Not only did it boost my ego (let’s be honest, everyone loves praise), but it also reminded me why I want to do this “journalism” thing in the first place:
Despite the doubts and the amount of unemployed journalists looking for a way in the world, there are people out there that read our stories and care. We do make a difference in people’s lives because we take the time to question and explore the world around us. It’s a big responsibility, but with new technology and tools, we can and do make a difference. We just have to remember the importance of quality and accuracy.