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To: Young Journalists
Re: Saving your profession
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Congratulations–you’ve chosen to enter journalism at the worst time in the history of the profession.
And you’re not the only one in trouble. Journalism schools are churning out new graduates every year for jobs that no longer exist. Going to school to become a journalist these days is roughly tantamount to studying to become a typewriter repairman or a telegraph operator.
And after school, it’s become ridiculously hard to break into the profession. It seems every medium- and large-size newspaper has a hiring freeze. And the Rocky Mountain News is likely to be only one of the first newspapers to shut down entirely–many are predicting some cities will be without a newspaper at all by the end of the year.
So is that it?
Here’s why: the demand for news is still there. If anything, it’s growing. Journalism isn’t dying–outdated newspaper business models are.Â The question isn’t if journalism will survive–it’s how it will survive, and who will be the first to find out a way to profit from the public’s need for information.
It will more likely than not be our generation that finds the answer. We’re much more comfortable with the Internet than previous generations, and we aren’t tied to how things were done in the past. Also, quite frankly, a lot of us are desperate, poor, and have nothing to lose.
There are many out there who are–quite understandably–trying to scare away journalism students into other career paths. But choosing to become a journalist has always been a decision made more out of passion than pragmatism. Even in the heyday of newspapers, being a journalist meant being underpaid and overworked, using talents that would earn quite a bit more in another career.
Journalism is a labor of love. And since we don’t know how to quit it, we’ll instead learn how to save it.