I’ve read a lot lately about the bleak future of journalism. Consumers of traditional newspaper, magazine, television and radio news are dwindling in number. And the median age of those that remain falls in 55+ age group.
Newspapers and magazines are being shut down. Radio stations are dropping local news coverage in favor of syndicated talk shows. Even rival TV stations are combining news staffs to save money. Traditional journalists are losing their jobs and those employed are being paid less. Many colleges and universities are cutting back or dropping journalism studies.
This sounds like an obituary in progress. But I’m not so sure journalism is dying as much as it is simply being reinvented.
Traditional journalism has a smaller role in today’s digital age. Consumers now want their news immediately, delivered to their computer, tablet or mobile phone. Why read about yesterday’s news tomorrow morning or watch a “breaking” story that occurred eight hours earlier?
The Internet now brings us more news than any one person could possibly ingest. And it brings it to us in many different flavors (liberal, conservative, satirical, issue-oriented) and in more formats (blogs, Facebook, tweets, text messages) than could have been imagined only 15 years ago.
Journalists now have a vast array of outlets for their reporting efforts. We have national news outlets such as the Drudge Report and Huffington Post. Sports writers can turn to sites such as Bleacher Report. Technology sites such as Gizmodo are always looking for contributors. Start-up WordPress blogs about religion, politics or even journalism can quickly gain hundreds, even thousands of devoted worldwide readers.
Even in cities where metropolitan newspapers have closed, there are now online outlets covering events in individual neighborhoods. Organizations, both public and private, now make their own news in the form of blogs or Facebook postings. And Twitter “reporters” have been credited with breaking major news stories and even starting revolutions.
Any person wanting to enter journalism today will not only need quality writing and reporting skills, but also an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s hard not to get excited about the new role of journalism. Rather than dying, it’s alive and vibrant and changing with the times better than most industries.
Old habits are hard to break. The hand wringers are upset that they may have to change the way they receive their news. The forms journalism takes have changed and will continue to evolve. But in the long run, we’ll still have all the news fit to read, listen to or watch — and a lot more.