The future of journalism (block that myth)

This week in class during grad student presentations, a bulleted sentence popped up on a slide. It said something about the future of journalism being uncertain. And I thought, well, not really. I don’t doubt that journalism will endure. Delivery and funding models will continue to change (because they must), but I don’t worry that people will cease to want reliable information and great stories that connect them to their fellow human.

We haven’t talked a lot this semester about what the future holds, or your anxiety or fears about that.

So let’s do it. This piece from the Washington Post sums up the myths about journalism and does a pretty good job of describing where we are, right now.

Read the piece. Then tell me, what worries you about the craft you’ve practiced this semester? What excites you, or gives you reason to feel optimistic?

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6 Responses to The future of journalism (block that myth)

  1. The article was really interesting. It’ll come in handy when I get the “So, that’s dying, right?” question at family parties for the millionth time. I’m like you in that I don’t worry about that. People like having their magazines, people still read the news. And honestly, it all (still) comes down to knowing your audience, though now we just need to know a little bit more about their online and real life habits.

    The changing landscape of the field thanks to technology is not something that keeps me up at night. Quite the opposite. It excites me. I’m in the world of media and journalism *because* I want to do it all, and as we’re constantly reminded in the J school — we’re going to have to. But I still think we’re lucky that our options for how we can tell stories are pretty unlimited. I look forward to navigating the changes and trying new things.

    Note: The part that worries my parents however is $$$. After the “Who will pay for this” lecture they kindly reminded me that small donations from readers will probably not fund life as I know it. Maybe it’s the naïvety and cockiness of a college kid, but I just think that thinking outside the story telling box will pay off in more ways than one.

  2. Personally, I really liked the part of the article about how in the developing world, the newspaper industry is on the rise. My goal is to eventually write in India, which seems very justified now.

    It’s funny for me to get this kind of encouragement from J4550 considering that J1010 and J1000, the supposed foundations of the journalism school, primarily preach the death of journalism. My first year here at the J School, was filled with all of the same accusations that came from my family: “You’re going into a dying field.”

    Naturally, I wouldn’t still be here if I wasn’t sure that no matter how much the economy sucks, people are still going to want to read about what’s going on. Still, changes need to be made, which is why it’s important that at least some journalists go to journalism school rather than majoring in English. The other day I got an email from an internship placement organization telling me I was stupid for majoring in journalism. There are a lot of crazy rumors going around about journalism, but in the end, people are still reading what we write. As long as that doesn’t change and we don’t get caught up in the doomsday culture, I’m pretty sure there will be a few people smart enough to think of something to keep us going and still keep the world informed.

  3. I think I’ve had the “Journalism’s not dying, it’s just changing” discussion at least 20 times in the last two years. Family members seemed especially concerned when I switched from Convergence to Print & Digital. “Why are you going narrower, focusing on newspapers? Why not try TV?” I always remind them that we’re learning about newer forms of journalism, too, like blogs and multimedia, so we’ll be okay, but they still worry. I also point out that the skills we’re learning here are invaluable to any potential career. Through our reporting experience, we learn not only to write and ask questions but also to have the confidence to talk to people of all sorts, from high-ranking public officials to kindergartners. They’re not just journalism skills; they’re life skills.

    The bigger thing for me, though, is that journalism’s not just about news; it’s about stories. It’s about the pieces that touch us and stay with us for a long time. I still tear up every time I experience Jacqui Banaszynski’s “AIDS in the Heartland.” I adore this story , originally in the Chicago Tribune, about a man and woman who fell in love and got married despite his cancer. It’s heartbreaking but so beautifully written (by Duaa Eldeib, who I later found out was a Mizzou grad!). Stories like those mean so much to so many people, from the families of the people they’re about to casual newspaper readers. They’re the stories that remind me why I’m in journalism, and they’ll be around forever. You’ll never get that kind of emotion from 140 characters.

  4. catnewhouse says:

    I didn’t have many doubts about my decision to go into journalism until my favorite magazine–and the magazine that basically got me started in journalism–closed down a couple of years ago, when I was a senior in high school. During my last two years of high school, I had been freelance writing for a Christian teen magazine that I wanted to stay involved with for the rest of my life, whether through a full-time job or more freelancing. The publishing company behind it was going through financial trouble and decided to close the teen publication (and others). So, watching that magazine disappear and editors I admired so much laid off was very sobering. Now I feel that there is a very real gap in Christian media for teenagers because of this magazine and others closing down.

    Before it closed, I think this magazine was headed in the right direction of reaching their audience of digital natives. They were posting new content online weekly with a newsletter, had a Facebook page, were trying to start up a blog, and were even creating YouTube video stories with music artists. The magazine had more potential than ever before to spread virally and reach teenagers (even I originally found it online), but it ran out of money to do it. With many teens reading online instead of paying for subscriptions, it wasn’t exactly at a profitable place. So although that potential of journalism to reach new audiences makes me very excited, I also feel forced to face the reality that those exciting changes might not happen for publications like the one I wrote for–or, at least not until we find a way to fund the efforts. I really want to see this happen, but as the Washington Post article points out, it doesn’t look like ad revenue is going to cut it. Convincing teens to contribute financially or donate is no easy task, either.

  5. This is the part that scares me: “The key to media in the 21st century may be who has the most knowledge of audience behavior, not who produces the most popular content.”

    I’m not worried about the survival of journalism… I’m worried about how it might degenerate in order to stay profitable and powerful.

    But as long as there are Tom Rosenstiels, etc., etc., we should stay in good shape.

  6. On a slightly different topic – or not… degeneration of press? – check out this article on twitter inaccuracies: .

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