By Elysse James | August 31st, 2007
In my last post I asked people to share their opinions on the state of the industry and the direction journalism is headed.
Here’s what I learned:
From what everyone said it seems the future will be in video/Web news. The journalists of tomorrow will be photographers, Web enthusiasts, videographers, and writers, who can do it all. Industry consolidation will lead to everyone doing a bit of everything work-wise, but experts on certain beats will flourish by combining all the different mediums to create a bigger picture for the consumer of what happens on a particular beat. The beat reporters will remain experts on their topic.
So, for those of us just starting out or still in early stages of our careers, it seems the best thing to do is learn to do everything, and to become an expert in at least one community-relevant topic.
The following are my favorite responses:
This one is from a non-journalist, a person who reads a lot of online news and watches TV news shows. He does not read newspapers or blogs.
- His belief (and one I personally disagree with) is that too many ‘bad’ journalists, slanted perspectives and agendas contaminate journalism. To combat this bias, he reads three or more news sources on the same story to get an idea of what the truth is. He views blogs and newspapers as strongly biased.
- He suggests the future lies in Web-based video, where the viewer can see exactly what is happening at a particular event and decide for themselves what the truth of the matter is.
An optimistic reporter had this to share about print journalism (I liked the whole response so I’m just going to print it for you here):
- “I think the future of the industry is healthy and secure (that sounds like something Bush would say in a State of the Union). Newspapers are steadily being forced to pick their audience – not just the general in public, but subgroups of the public. Maybe we write for the more community-oriented, maybe political junkies, maybe business-minded people. It’s not that it costs too much to brush with a broad stroke, but conglomeration has put even more emphasis on the bottom line. And unfortunately, you won’t find a journalistically-minded person at the top of any corporation. The (mostly) money-hungry, ethically-flexible corporate world would eat them alive. So journalism as a whole is making a choice – either get lucky and be one of the huge, respectable metropolitan big papers – Los Angeles Times, The Chronicle, New York Times, Boston Globe – or stay small and stay community. Papers will never die, though converting print stories to a Web site only makes sense. Can you imagine 30, 50, 100 years from now dad, grandpa or great-grandpa dusting off his computer chair to surf the Internet and show you old Web sites of when 9/11 happened? Or will he go to his scrapbook, and show you a headline? Nothing can compete with the permanence of newspaper. And that, above all, is why it will always survive. That argument itself speaks volumes about what the future of journalism is to me. It’s not flourishment, it’s survival. Print journalism is the dinosaur of another time that refuses to become extinct.”
Another reporter had a gloomier outlook:
- He said the printed word is already dead, and that “the downfall of ethics and quality we are now experiencing is not because the technology of the Internet is zapping the profits from newspapers. It started decades ago as profitseekers saw their opportunity to manipulate information in a way to maximize monetary return. In radio they call this concept “Pay for play.” In newspapers it’s killing negative stories about advertisers, putting positive news out front as often as possible, and treating the news gathering side of the industry as just another expense. They were movements that were already broadly enacted throughout the media long before a lot of us got here. Now, however, these opportunists are becoming bold enough, thanks to the economic hardship gripping the industry, to go about reshaping journalism to “maximize profits” without the shame that would have been associated in the past with doing away with one’s ethics to make a buck.”
- His belief is that journalism still exists, and will continue to exist, but the accuracy and integrity of media during this time is strongly questionable.
Another favorite response concerning television news was that the news clips would descend deeper into celebrity and entertainment news, and that people would have to go to talk news shows and the Web to get real news by qualified people because the real television journalists are a dying breed and the new faces are chosen for looks and ability to read a teleprompter. (I’m hoping this isn’t true!)
Thanks to everyone who replied! The responses were varied, creative and interesting. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed my research on the topic!