Journalism: An Industry in Transition

January 6, 2012
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The day I came to the realization that what I needed to do with my life was to become a journalist I did not question it. The day I came to the realization, it was like I had known it my entire life. It just felt right. It was like I had always known what I wanted, I just didn’t know how to categorize it, or how to label it, if you will. I was excited about this epiphany. I was excited to share with the world that one day, I would be a great journalist. I would expose injustice, celebrate triumphs, and bring people together by bringing events happening across the world into the living rooms of families. My utopian bubble did not last, however, because as people would ask me what my post-secondary plans were, and I would answer “I want to study Journalism”, I would be smacked with; “Why? It’s a dying industry.”

A dying industry? This idea was perplexing to me. As far as I was concerned, journalism was a thriving industry. The way I saw it; there was certainly no shortage of newsworthy events happening in the world, so how could an industry that’s sole purpose is to cover these stories possibly be suffering? I began to do some research on the issue, as I wanted to be aware of what I was really getting myself into by committing myself to journalism as a life choice.

Very soon into my research, I stumbled upon an address given in 2009 by Barbara Ehrenreich to Journalism Grads at UC Berkeley. Ehrenreich’s address was, from the beginning, strikingly pessimistic. But it was so in a humorous way that I can appreciate. She started off by mentioning some guidelines she had been given by the Dean; amongst them was to mention tips on how to apply for food stamps. As I read further, I must admit, I felt myself becoming discouraged. However, I continued to research and read and the more I did so, the more my outlook began to change again. It dawned on me that Journalism is not a dying industry at all, and I was right from the beginning; it is thriving. The fact that so many people were taking the time to be vocal and write about the topic seems to be proof in itself that “Journalism” in it’s purest form is indeed alive and well. Journalism is not dying, but rather, changing.

A lot of what I was reading and even watching while researching the idea of Journalism as a dying industry was solely focusing on the death of print media; as in newspapers and magazines. While these industries may be suffering, and they undeniably are, this does not translate to the death of Journalism. It simply is symbolic of a progressing world, in which new technologies are being introduced to us every day. With this growth comes new, innovative ways to present the news. Before the time of radio and television, people relied on newspapers as the sole provider of their news, because besides word of mouth, which was only effective in local situations, that was all they had. With the introduction of the radio came new ways of people getting the news, and television was the same. Now, in the internet-age that we live in, many people are getting their news online. This does not mean that people are not still getting their news from Journalists.

It is true that with the launch of social-networking website such as Twitter and Facebook, the world has never been closer. The existence of these websites means that we can receive eyewitness reports, both written and visual, in real time. When the rebellions all over the Arab world began springing up, those of us in other parts of the world such as North America and Europe were tuned into Twitter, watching as videos of what was happening began pouring in. Raw, unedited videos that showed in plain view the brightest and darkest moments of the struggle. These technologies and websites that allow us to receive these eyewitness reports are truly amazing and do allow us an insight into events unlike ever before, however, they will never be sufficient. Never will an unedited video shot with a cell phone and uploaded to Twitter or Facebook rule out the need for live coverage of an event brought to us by a reporter. Journalists are trained to be unbiased, with no agenda other than to present the facts in the best way that they can. Journalists present the news as it pertains to us. Watching an amateur video of uprisings around the world certainly is emotional and makes me feel, but it does not explain how it relates to my life. That is the job of the Journalist.

Journalists are people who are willing to go where the news is happening. They are willing to do what others are not, which is enter into unknown situations so that they can bring the news to the masses. While any average Joe can start a blog, only a Journalist has the skills required to present stories in ways that all can relate to, which is absolutely vital in today’s diverse society. The need for unbiased, factual reporting of events both local and global will never die, and thus, Journalism will survive.

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