I had the opportunity to meet with two aspiring journalists this week. Both are sophomores here at San Diego State and both have a passion for journalism and a refreshing drive that we often don’t associate with the “millenial” generation.
After discussing their futures, their career paths and ways to get where they want to go, I watched this clip of Arriana Huffington, on MSNBC, discussing the future of journalism with some seasoned media folks. In the interview, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is skeptical (to put it mildly) of the ability of small, local publications to do real meaningful journalism. Huffington cites San Diego’s own Voice of San Diego as an excellent example of real, important, investigative journalism happening on a small budget. Without having ever seen the web site, Noonan scoffs at the notion.
That to me is frightening and is what is driving the demise of the newspaper industry as we know it. Major publications unwilling to see that there are other, newer ways to do things. Huffington is spot on. Our society needs real, ethical, trained journalists, now more than ever, to be the eyes and ears of society. But they don’t need to work at the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
This week we received the very sad news that the San Diego Union-Tribune had laid off 192 people, many of whom worked in the newsroom. So where do these veteran journalists go? Some will call it a career. But Voice of San Diego and others, like the new San Diego News Network, will end up employing some of them. And so they will continue to do that important work, just not in print.
And so I think about how scary it must be to be a journalism student right now, wondering what you are going to do after you graduate. My personal belief is that there are actually more opportunities now than ever before. The digital world we live in provides opportunities to break in, doing real, meaningful work, without having to cut your teeth and the Pokipsi Gazette. The Huffington Post utilizes Citizen Journalists better than most. And the two students I met with both are affiliate reporters for Palestra.net. From Ground Report and CNN’s I Report, there are many other examples of ways journalists can continue to tell their stories.
So when I spoke to those two students, I encouraged them to keep working with the journalism department here and keep diversifying their skill sets by writing for The Daily Aztec, shooting video, doing radio at KCR, networking and more.
I heard a great quote from Steve Rubel, the digital mastermind at Edelman PR: A journalism professor was asked what he’s going to teach his students now that newspapers are dying. He responded that it’s like asking a math teacher what he’s gonig to teach now that there are calculators.