We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of an inspiring industry.
An industry that faithfully presented you with newspapers on your front step. An industry that gave your dog something to chew on besides your slipper. An industry that ensured the spread of information, even when all forces of nature fought against them. And finally, an industry that looked out for everyone, and fought to present both sides of a single story without bias or contempt.
Sadly, this industry has left us. Thanks to the invention of the smartphone and the laptop computer, it had no chance. It was pushed aside, snuffed out, and taken abruptly from this world. But don’t worry, this industry is in a better place.
…………. cue reality …………..
Tomorrow I head to Ottawa for the annual Canadian Association of Journalism (CAJ) conference. While I always look forward to these conferences, they can be a bit redundant. Everyone talks about how difficult it is to get into the industry, and how jobs are being cut. In order to get a job you have to prove that you are unique and make yourself stand out among the hundreds of applicants. A third of the panelists try to scare you, a third half have no hope, and the last remaining few have successfully adapted to the technological aspect of being a reporter.
I find there is too much pessimism within the journalism industry. There are a lot of people who actually believe that their job is a dying art, that the news is being replaced by citizen reporting and social media. The perfect example of this was an interview I had with a city newspaper. I was really excited to get an interview for their summer internship, but I felt like I spent half the time defending my choice to become a journalist. I swear they asked me five different ways why I wanted to be a journalist—even more specifically, why I wanted to be a journalist NOW. I didn’t think they believed me! It was like they couldn’t fathom someone wanting to become a journalist in this modern, technologically savvy world.
Suffice to say, I did not get the job—but I do still want to be a journalist. I don’t think the industry is dying, and I do believe that in 20 years good old-fashioned reporting will still be relevant. The industry isn’t dying, it is changing. All news outlets have to do is adapt to the times, realize they can still publish print editions with different information than their website, the use of online tools to break news and provide more depth into a story.
Maclean’s Magazine does this very well (and I’m not just saying that because I will be interning there this summer). They understand how to divide their content and ensure that people keep their subscriptions, yet still check their website for new content. They have their regular magazine, as well as special editions which cost extra. This content is not all repeated online, and therefore readers can only get it if they purchase the magazine. At the same time, they are not unaware of the technological changes society is used too. Maclean’s also hosts numerous online blogs that provide exclusive content and creates a forum for breaking news. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you keep the journalism industry alive.
It is all about using all this technology to our advantage, and I think there are a lot of publications and reporters who are doing this quite well. You have to know when and what to tweet and what information to hold on too—how you can turn this into a story that will make people want to read it. One hundred and forty characters will never replace a news article, and no citizen blog can replace true hard-hitting reporting. There will always be people willing to read a 1,500 word story and it the spread of information will always be a necessity.
So let’s not write journalism’s eulogy just yet, because personally, I think it has a long life yet to live.