Journalists of the future, we need you! (Um, now...)
by Paul Furiga, on Jun. 27, 2014
Author’s Note: Sparked by NewsCastic’s list of stupid things journalists hear about their job, I am reprising a blog post originally posted here in April 2010. I feel that journalism is NOT dying. In fact, looking at the websites out there with the most traffic, after taking out sales sites like Amazon or eBay, nearly all of them are news sites — CNN, the New York Times, AP, etc. Journalism is not dead, it’s changing — in some radical ways. Find out why we need journalism of the future now more than ever.
How does what was said then still apply four years later?
As someone who's spent three decades in and around journalism, what happens to the business and profession is of more than passing interest to me.
It's not just that I run a public relations agency and that some share of our work will always be interwoven with that of journalists. It's not that I have many friends who still carry a notebook every day and report the news as it happens (though I do). And it's not that I am nostalgic about the days when you could actually yell, "Get me rewrite!" and it meant something (OK, maybe I am a little).
No, I care about the future health of journalism because, despite what everybody says, there's never been a better time to be a journalist. And there's never been a time when we've needed journalists more.
Sometimes, I just want to climb the nearest building and shout (well, today I guess I would Tweet): "Journalists of the future, we need you! Now."
Here's why I am bullish on journalism when so many others are not:
- The crash of the newspaper industry is the crash of the traditional classified and display advertising industry, not the end of the human biological need for information and the desire to argue/debate/entertain/gossip/inform in common with each other based upon what we collectively consider "news."
- The crash of the newspaper industry is, in addition to the collapse of the print advertising model (thank you Craigslist, srsly) the collapse of an antiquated delivery model that makes no sense in the 21st century. Trucking around dead trees and expending tremendous amounts of fossil fuels to do so is stupid.
- The crash of the network TV model is more about the explosion of choice than it is about the end of the need for instant, authoritative reporting. I am not nostalgic for a video world in which I have only three choices for content (ah, 1977!)
Here's why we need the journalists of the future -- now:
- Today's young journalists natively understand that the Internet has created a need for news reporting that is both instant and rich in multimedia. The division of labor between print, broadcast and online is purely artificial today. We need a journalist who can report his or her own story, upload and edit the video, cut the audio and post the blog. This is what young journalists do.
- Pick your scary statistic, today's explosion of information is not making us smarter, it is making us more confused. More than ever, we need trained professionals who help us make sense of the sea of information that is drowning us. This is what good journalists have always done.
- We're already behind the curve. The shrinking time span between the development of technology and its implementation is a global phenomenon that affects journalism as much as other fields. There's no reason, in any field, that students should be trained to use the tools of the last decade (or the last century) to solve the problems of tomorrow. It's about time journalism joined the 21st century in this regard.
Here's why the journalists of the future should want to be journalists:
- While it's true that journalists of the future may not work in big buildings with printing presses in the basement churning through tons of paper, it's also true that journalists of the future don't need those tons of paper to be successful.
- A journalistic voice worthy of being heard no longer has to climb through the Byzantine ranks of small-market newspapers, radio or television to reach a broader audience. Thanks to the Internet, journalism can be direct to consumer!
- While journalists of the future may not have the financial and brand resources of the old print and broadcast dynasties as a platform for success, they also no longer have the limits on their ownership, control and success that working for those big, old, traditional media outlets would impose on them.
I am not naïve. I do not believe this is an easy transition or that the rewards for new journalists will be easy to attain. I do believe they will be worth it, for journalists, and for our increasingly global society.
So here's the bottom line, one that I share with dozens of bright young people who network with me every year about a potential career in journalism: Journalists of the future, we need you!
And the good news for the rest of us is that, despite what the naysayers may believe, the real journalists of the future need us, too. Their passion and their persistence — their biological imperative to participate in that sharing of news I described earlier — will compel them to become journalists. And we will all be the better for it.