Saturday I spoke at the University of Central Florida, at an SPJ regional conference. A lot of students were there, and it was fun getting to know them and hearing about their plans and dreams. One was a student at the University of Florida majoring in magazines, just like I did. Another student spoke languages and was considering a career with the CIA or State Department.
Wednesday I spoke to a journalism class at Florida Atlantic University. Afterward I read some of the students’ news stories and talked with them about how to improve. Their ideas were so creative. One story was about a South Florida community were 80 percent or 90 percent of the schoolchildren speak English as a second language. Some of them speak a Guatemalan dialect not even recorded on paper.
Here is what I said during each presentation.
“By choosing a career in journalism you are choosing a more difficult path,” I told the students honestly. “It’s tough out there.”
Think positive, I advised. Change is scary. It can be easy to focus on the things we’ve lost and feel sad and mourn those things. But change can be good. It can be exciting, exhilarating. It can lead to new and better things.
Today our industry is experiencing a revolution unlike any at least since the television was invented. Some have compared our transition to that of the printing press. What an exciting time to be a journalist, to witness this change. Together we are shaping the journalism industry of tomorrow.
Embrace this change, I told the students. It is a time to experiment. There is no right or wrong. It is OK to fail. It all is just progress. Take this opportunity to try new things. Explore. Have fun. In the end you might discover you are better off than you ever would have been before.